Canada introduces 10 days of paid sick leave

Amendments would also include employee protection from harassment

Canada introduces 10 days of paid sick leave

Liberals last week introduced a new legislation that will provide 10 days of paid sick leave annually for workers in the federally regulated private sector - one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign promises back before the election. Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. and Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the legislation that would amend the Canada Labour Code to make the campaign promise into fruition. Michelle McKinnon, employment lawyer at BC-based McMillan, said this is a significant development that follows the announcement of British Columbia for workers.

"The rationale provided by the Federal Government for the introduction of paid sick leave is similar to that provided by the BC Government – the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for paid sick leave as many workers were forced to choose between their health and being paid," she told HRD.

O'Regan also dubbed it as an "important step in the fight against COVID-19 and a necessary addition to the social safety net that organised labour has been advocating for."

The legislation will cover about 18,500 employers in the federally regulated industries, comprised of workplaces such as interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation, banks, postal and courier services, among others. According to federal government, it will be consulting with federally regulated employers and workers regarding the implementation of this legislation.

Read more: Ontario announces three days paid sick leave during COVID-19 pandemic

"Interestingly, the Federal Government also stated that it will 'convene provinces, territories, and other interested stakeholders to develop a national action plan to legislate paid sick leave across the country' while respecting provincial-territorial jurisdiction and clearly recognising the unique needs of small business owners," McKinnon said. "This is a clear indication that Canada is moving towards the implementation of paid sick leave for workers across Canada.”

Meanwhile, the government also seeks to protect medical professionals from harassment.

"No one should be intimidated for providing or seeking health care and everyone should be able to access the care they need without undue obstruction," said Lametti. "This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable, particularly during a global pandemic where access to health care services is essential for Canadian society to recover and thrive."

A 2019 study from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health found that workplace violence rate for healthcare workers is four times higher than other professions. This is further worsened by the pandemic, where a Statistics Canada Survey revealed that seven out of 10 healthcare workers admitted to suffering from worsening mental health.

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