Legislation to provide ten days of paid sick leave and enhance protections for health care workers receives Royal Assent
December 17, 2021 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of issues facing Canadians in their workplaces. For too long, many Canadians have been forced to choose between going to work sick or paying their bills, while others, particularly health care workers, have experienced or feared intimidation while attempting to provide or access health services. That’s why the Government of Canada took action by introducing Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which will provide ten days of paid sick leave to all federally regulated private sector employees and enhance protections for health care workers and those accessing health services. The legislation also amends bereavement leave under Part III of the Canada Labour Code to provide up to eight weeks of leave for employees who lose a child or experience a stillbirth.
Today, Bill C-3 received Royal Assent. Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr., and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti, marked this important step toward continuing the fight against COVID-19 and building back better. These reforms represent permanent change to support workers in federally regulated industries and the healthcare sector.
The Government will engage with federally regulated employers, including small and medium-sized enterprises towards the implementation of paid sick leave in Canada. The amendments will come into force on a date to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. This will allow time for employers to implement payroll changes and work with unions as needed to adjust collective agreements.
Further, the Government of Canada will convene the provinces and territories in early 2022 to develop a national action plan to legislate paid sick leave for all workers across the country, while respecting provincial-territorial jurisdiction and clearly recognizing the unique needs of small business owners.
The amendments to the Criminal Code create a new intimidation offence targeting those who use fear to stop a health care worker or those who assist them from performing their duties or to prevent a person from obtaining health services. A specific offence is also created to prohibit obstructing any person from accessing health facilities. In addition, new sentencing provisions will require courts to consider more serious penalties for offenders who target health care workers or who impede others from obtaining health services. These amendments come into force 30 days after Royal Assent.
"Paid sick leave will protect workers and their families, protect their jobs, and protect their workplaces. It's an important step in the fight against COVID-19 and a necessary addition to the social safety net that organized labour has been advocating for. We look forward to working with the provinces and territories to expand access to paid sick leave across the country.”
–Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
“Health care workers across Canada have been working extremely hard to protect us through the pandemic, and now we are delivering on our commitment to protect them. This legislation provides the tools needed to make sure that health care workers and those who assist them can work without fear or intimidation and that the people who rely on them can safely access health services.”
–Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
The federally regulated sector is comprised of workplaces from a broad range of industries, including interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation, banks, postal and courier services, among others.
There are approximately 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries, including federal Crown corporations that together employ 955,000 people (about 6% of all employees in Canada), the vast majority (87%) of these people work in companies with 100 or more employees.
The pandemic has exacerbated the already difficult work conditions experienced by health care workers, in which they have faced concerning levels of violence and threats of violence.
A 2019 report conducted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health entitled, Violence Facing Health Care Workers in Canada (HESA Report), documented that health care workers have a four times higher rate of workplace violence than any other profession, despite most of this violence being unreported.
For media enquiries regarding changes to the Canada Labour Code, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Minister of Labour
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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For media enquiries regarding changes to the Criminal Code, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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