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. 

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