Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise here today in support of the positive words and well-deserved comments made so far on Bill C-220. I congratulate my colleague from Edmonton Riverbend for his work on this and for garnering support. Hopefully, if we go by the optimism and tone tonight, we can get it to committee to get more feedback and work together on how we can support caregivers and people in their time of need.
I am proud to be one of the members to have seconded this bill. It was good to get bipartisan support for the idea it puts forth in the first hour of debate we had on this bill last fall.
We have had a pretty good week when it comes to votes on private members' bills. There was Bill C-208, a Conservative bill, on the transfer of family farms. It got good bipartisan support. It is a very good common-sense piece of legislation that is moving forward. There was also Bill C-204, which takes real action on environmental protections by banning the export of plastic waste. When we get back from the break week, if we have a vote on this, I hope we will have another Conservative private member's bill that is making good progress and helping people.
For those who are not as familiar with it, the bill before us deals with compassionate care leave. We have that in our country for up to to 28 weeks through the EI system to help those who need to provide care to loved ones in their final days. One of the challenges we have is as an NDP member said in the first hour of debate in noting that there is a bit of a rough edge when it comes to the end of compassionate care leave. When caregivers lose their loved ones, they are expected to go back to work quickly. We need to address that. This bill certainly makes progress in doing that.
I want to give context and clarification to my constituents in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry who are watching this and Canadians who are interested in supporting this bill.
Due to a technicality in the private members' bills process, my colleague from Edmonton Riverbend cannot propose the spending of dollars without a royal recommendation and technical process. We cannot force the government to spend dollars through the regular EI program; that would have to be proposed by the government. I think getting this bill further, making that progress and passing this bill would build momentum to encourage the government to act on this.
What we are able to do as a Parliament through the private members' bills process is to amend the Canada Labour Code covering federally regulated workplaces, such as air transportation, banks, radio and television communications, railways, Crown corporations like Canada Post, and telecommunications. I think of our family trucking business, which would fall under this because of our cross-country work. Many trucking businesses would fall under this. Therefore, through this private member's bill we are able to address it in the Canada Labour Code.
The bill addresses a gap in compassionate care leave with respect to bereavement. The statistics show that about one in every four workers is a caregiver to someone in need. Currently, we have the EI process that has seen a lot of positive modernizations by governments. I am proud of our Conservative record when we were in government of expanding EI for maternity leave, looking at compassionate care leave, and making enhancements over the years. This is something that can build on that next layer, that next level of support that we need to do.
Here is why we need to do this. There are about three key points in this.
First, if the loved ones of family caregivers pass away, the family have to go back to work within a matter of a couple of days. We are lacking in that respect in our compassionate care policy in this country.
Second, there are a lot of things that family members need to attend to from a technical perspective, such as a funeral, insurance benefits and estate situations. In my constituency office we work with a lot of families on the CPP death benefit or other paperwork and things that need to be returned or closed on a file.
The third point is very relevant, but we have not talked about it as much during this whole debate, and that is the mental health of those caregivers as part of the bereavement process. It certainly has been tough during COVID-19, but that has always been the case when people have to return back to work quite quickly. I was proud to see many colleagues from all parties celebrate the amazing progress we have made with the Bell Let's Talk Day in raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health challenges.
This bill is a perfect example that we can go back to our constituents with and say that we are actually making things better, that we are doing things here in Ottawa that can help people in their time of need.
My colleague's bill, which I am proud to support, does that. It looks at where we are able to make these changes so that we can give up to three weeks of additional compassionate care leave in federally regulated workplaces to an employee to deal with grieving and bereavement after their loved one's life has ended.
What I like about this is our effort on this side of the aisle to show pragmatism and talk about a sliding scale, where someone could get up to three weeks of compassionate leave, depending on how much leave they had taken before their loved one's passing. I think it is pragmatic and reasonable, and it is exactly what we need to do to make a step in the right direction. If we can get this is in place we could also encourage the government and Canadians to support enhancements to EI in how we do this.
I want to note the overwhelming support from stakeholders who deal with caregivers, bereavement and illness across this country. There is a great cross-section of people on board in support of this bill: the Canadian Grief Alliance, the Canadian Cancer Society, the MS Society of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation—