The Canada Labour Code provides for bereavement leave of five days in the event of a death of an immediate family member, of which three days are paid leave if the employee has three consecutive months of continuous employment with their employer. This will be increased to 10 days at the end of September, thanks to a Conservative Private Member’s Bill C-220, introduced by MP Matt Jeneroux, which received Royal Assent on June 29 of this year.
Unfortunately, Canada’s current bereavement policies still do not recognize the devastation of miscarriages, stillbirths, or the death of a child for grieving parents.
There is currently no specific bereavement leave for miscarriages or stillbirths in the Canada Labour Code, though women can be eligible for sick leave, particularly in the event of complications.
Employment insurance (EI) parental benefits are immediately cut off in the event of a child’s death. Those on maternity leave may also be cut off prematurely, because they are only eligible to finish their maternity benefits, but ineligible to transfer to EI parental benefits. The last thing a parent who has just lost a child needs to worry about is losing their government benefits prematurely.
The Canada Labour Code does not treat the death of a child any differently from that of another immediate family member, despite the fact that anyone would recognize the particular devastation of such an event.
A more compassionate approach
To support grieving parents, a Conservative government will:
· Amend the Canada Labour Code to allow for three days of paid bereavement in the event of a miscarriage. This policy recognizes the trauma faced by a family who suffers a miscarriage or stillbirth and seeks to rectify what is currently a cold and uncompassionate bereavement policy. By expanding bereavement leave to include miscarriages, women who endure this tragedy will no longer be forced to use sick days or vacation days in order to mourn and recover. A Conservative government will guarantee three days of specific bereavement leave.
· Reform EI maternity and parental benefits to ensure that parents who lose a child are not abruptly cut off from their benefits. Building off Private Member’s Motion 110 introduced by MP Blake Richards, Conservatives will ensure that EI parental benefits are extended for at least eight weeks following the death of an infant.
· Amend the Canada Labour Code to provide up to eight weeks of paid leave from employment in the event of a child’s death or stillbirth. This expands upon Private Member’s Bill C-307, introduced in the last Parliament by Conservative MP Tom Kmiec.
· The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) estimates 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage.
· In 2019-20, there were over 2,800 deaths of children under the age of 18, the vast majority of which were during the first few months of life.
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