Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this very important bill. Bill C-220, an act that would amend the Labour Code regarding compassionate care leave is one that, if passed, would make a major difference for so many Canadians at one of the most difficult moments of their lives.
Most Canadians have been a situation where they have lost a loved one or have experienced grief due to the loss of a loved one. Anyone who has experienced knows there is no way of getting around certain things. At the very moment one loses someone so important to them, who has likely been a major part of their life for so long, one has to take care of arrangements one hopes one would never have to make.
It goes without saying that work is the last thing on one's mind when they are going through the death of a family member. There is no way to be productive when one is experiencing such a loss, at least not so soon, and yet grieving employees often return to work before they are ready. Doing so only has a negative impact on their work performance, productivity and careers. We are talking about absences, career interruptions and unplanned resignations.
Our government can do more to support grieving employees. One thing we can do is provide time off so that employees can deal with the stress of losing a loved one. Bill C-220 could provide more time. In fact, this piece of legislation was strong in the beginning and is even stronger now with the amendments that have been adopted.
What is compassionate care leave? Allow me to explain. Compassionate care leave is unpaid leave under part III of the Canada Labour Code that allows an employee to take up to 28 weeks of leave within a 52-week period to provide care and support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within a 26-week period, as attested to in a medical certificate.
Employees on compassionate care leave could also be eligible for corresponding employment insurance compassionate care benefits for up to 26 weeks. Currently, compassionate care leave as well as corresponding employment insurance benefits end on the last day of the week in which the person being cared for dies.
Our government recognizes that we have a role to play in providing workers in federally regulated workplaces with the support they need following the death of a family member.
The government provides this assistance mainly under part III of the Canada Labour Code, which provides for a number of types of leave and other support measures for employees.
For example, part III of the code provides for up to five days of bereavement leave, including three paid days for employees who have completed three consecutive months of continuous employment. This leave may be taken during the period that begins on the day on which the death occurs and ends six weeks after the latest of the days on which any funeral, burial or memorial service of that immediate family member occurs.
Next, there is personal leave of up to five days, including three paid days for employees who have completed three consecutive months of continuous employment. It can be taken for various reasons, particularly in case of an emergency, such as the death of family member.
There is also up to 17 weeks of leave without pay for medical reasons if the employee is unable to work for health reasons, including psychological trauma or stress caused by the death of a family member.
Also, there is a right to request flexible work arrangements, which allows employees to request a change to the terms and conditions of their employment related to the number of hours they work, their work schedule and the location of their work. Employees who have completed six months of continuous employment with an employer are entitled to make this request.
Let us get back to Bill C-220 and its amendments.
Bill C-220, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code with regard to bereavement leave, is now stronger and more equitable, and that is thanks to some important amendments. These amendments were recently passed at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The amended Bill C-220 would extend bereavement leave by five days, for a total of 10 days, as opposed to extending compassionate care leave, as the bill was originally drafted. This would ensure that all federally regulated employees can get additional time off if they lose a loved one, regardless of whether they are on leave at the time.
The adopted amendments also ensure that a broader group of employees would be entitled to take bereavement leave. Employees on compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness who are caring for a non-immediate family member who passes away would also be entitled to the 10 days of bereavement leave. This secondary amendment was necessary because those employees concurrently only take bereavement leave when it pertains to an immediate family member. This is not the case for compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness. The definition of “family member” under bereavement leave does not include non-immediate family members, whereas under compassionate care leave and leave related to critical illness it does. Without the adopted amendment, employees who take compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness in respect of a non-immediate family member who passes away would not be entitled to bereavement leave.
As amended, Bill C-220 would support all employees in dealing with the loss of a family member, not only those who are on compassionate care leave. This is in line with the government's commitment to provide leave for those who need it most. No Canadian should have to choose between grieving the loss of a loved one and working.
We are very pleased that the amendments were accepted, as they make Bill C-220 more equitable and more consistent in how the government supports employees who experience the death of a loved one.
Thanks to the amendments we adopted, Bill C-220 will give federally regulated private sector employees who lose a loved one more time off to grieve and attend to practicalities, such as making funeral arrangements and sharing the news with family and friends.
This is why it is really great to see that all parties seem to be in support of this bill. Like my colleague before me, I am very happy that our Conservative colleague who came forward with this bill did so in such a non-partisan fashion. I am glad that all parliamentarians are working together to make sure Canadians can properly grieve, have the chance to grieve when they need to, and not be negatively impacted in the workplace.
With that, I invite my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-220 as amended so we can support Canadian workers from coast to coast to coast.