moved that Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am deeply grateful for the leadership shown in the House today. All parties supported Bill C-3 at second reading; all parties supported Bill C-3 at committee, and all parties are now supporting the passage of Bill C-3 with reasoned amendments from the opposition.
I want to recognize my opposition critics: the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and the member for Thérèse-De Blainville. We worked with urgency and with openness.
I want to thank the members of HUMA for taking up this bill with the swiftness it deserved and giving it due and reasoned consideration.
I also want to recognize the House leaders, as well as the Minister of Justice, for their work.
I want to recognize all the officials who worked diligently on this legislation.
The pandemic has shown us that many workers do not have paid sick leave.
No one should have to choose between staying home when they are sick or being able to afford rent and groceries.
We are proposing amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide all federally regulated private sector workers with 10 days of paid sick leave.
We are working with the provinces, territories and other interested stakeholders to develop with an action plan to legislate sick leave across the country.
Approximately 955,000 employees, approximately 6% of all Canadian employees, are working for 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries. In 2019, about 582,700 employees, representing 63.3% of all employees employed in federally regulated industries, had access to fewer than 10 days of paid sick leave to treat a personal illness or injury. Statistics from 2019 show that Canadian workers took an average of eight-and-a-half days of leave for illness and issues related to a disability.
As a government, we moved quickly and urgently on this bill, and parliamentarians of all parties and in both chambers have done the same. The last two years have shown us the cost of what further inaction would be: people forced to choose between going into work sick and risk spreading the virus to others and being able to afford groceries or rent, productivity loss, quarantine, shutdowns, lockdowns. The cost of inaction is too great. However, beyond the current pandemic, Bill C-3 would put in place an enduring protection for workers in our country.
I will speak briefly to the amendments, both those made at HUMA and those made today in the House. No medical certificate would be required for five days or less of paid sick leave. Requiring a medical certificate for each day of paid sick leave taken would have been too much of a barrier to access. I heard that from the House and Senate committees undertaking this bill.
An Ipsos poll that was taken just before the pandemic shows that 82% of Canadians would rather go to work sick than obtain a medical certificate. Workers would earn 10 days of paid sick leave throughout the year, but would have three days after the first 30 days of continuous work. This is something we heard again at committee, both in the House and Senate, and we deemed it important to provide.
Finally, anyone experiencing the loss of an immediate family member can feel shock and grief in addition to having their well-being and effectiveness at work impacted. Bill C-3 now includes 10 days of leave for the loss of an immediate family member. The loss of a child is devastating. It is a devastation no one should know. There is an amendment to Bill C-3 to provide eight weeks of leave for parents who are confronted with this unspeakable tragedy. Our government took steps to ensure that when workers experienced such a tragic event, there would be supports now in place.
There is a lot more work to do. We must continue to move not only with speed, but with accuracy to implement this legislation. This has to be done right, but it has to be done quickly. The pandemic is relentless, but so are Canadians and the members of the House. We will engage urgently with stakeholders to do the necessary work to ensure workers in Canada have access to paid sick leave as soon as possible.
As has been the case with workers and their issues throughout Canada's history, no one has been as effective as, or shone a clearer light on the importance of this topic than, organized labour and Canada's unions. I want to specifically thank those groups, whether provincial labour federations, individual members of a local, or national union leaders, for the work they did to make this idea a reality.
I would also touch on the proposed Criminal Code offences and those amendments that would target intimidation and obstruction of health service workers. It was made clear that it is not an offence for people to attend or approach a health care facility simply to communicate information and to do so peacefully. We have all seen the necessity of those Criminal Code amendments.
I will close with two observations. One came very early on in my time as the labour minister when meeting with front-line workers. Someone asked that we stop calling them heroes and start treating them like human beings.
The other is a quote from Jim Stanford, the economist who wrote in The Globe and Mail earlier this month. He states:
It would be reckless and short-sighted to return to a pre-COVID “normal” that compelled sick workers to show up, regardless of the risk to others.
Today, members of the House said they unanimously agreed. The government and the House met the moment. This legislation will be a permanent support for workers and will help us fight, and finish the fight, against this pandemic.
I thank all the members of the House who supported this legislation and all those who have worked so hard to find a reasonable and honourable way forward. The message they have sent to Canadian workers and Canadians in general about how seriously we take the fight against the pandemic was written in their vote, which was unanimous.