July 28, 2021

Amendments to the Canada Labour Code

On June 29, 2021, Bill C-30, the Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 19, 2021 and other measures, and Bill C-220, the Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave) were both assented to. These bills make several changes to the Canada Labour Code that directly affect federally regulated private-sector workplaces.

Federal minimum wages

Starting December 29, 2021, employees in federally regulated workplaces will be entitled to receive a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.[1] Moreover, if the rate fixed in a province or territory is higher than the federal minimum wage, the employer must pay the higher wage.[2]

To ensure that the minimum wage remains appropriate and follows inflation, it will be adjusted (rounded up to the nearest $0.05) on April 1 of each year based on Canada’s Consumer Price Index for the preceding calendar year.[3] This will help significantly reduce inequalities, especially for low-wage workers.

COVID-19 leave

On June 19, 2021, the maximum number of weeks of leave for COVID-19 related caregiving responsibilities rose from 26 to 42 weeks.[4]

Medical leave of absence

Thanks to Bill C-30, an employee may now take up to 27 weeks for a medical leave of absence instead of the previous 17 weeks.[5] This amendment and the amendments to the EI sickness benefits will come into force together on a date to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council. Lawmakers have also added quarantine to the list of reasons for which a request for medical leave of absence is justified.[6]

Leave related to the death or disappearance of a child

Since June 29, 2021, the leave related to the death or disappearance of a child in cases in which it is probable that the child died as a result of a crime has been amended to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private sector can take advantage of the improved Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime without fear of losing their job.

Among other things, these amendments:

  • expand eligibility to parents of children over 18 years of age, but under 25 years of age;[7]
  • raise the maximum leave of absence from 52 to 104 weeks in instances where the employee is a parent to a child that has disappeared;[8]
  • raise the total amount of leave an employee can take in respect of the disappearance of the same child from 52 to 104 weeks;[9]
  • modify the exception that disentitles an employee to the leave if the child, 14 years of age or older, was a party to the crime that led to their death;[10]
  • broaden the definition of “parent,” notably to include the notion of curator, of a person who has decision-making responsibilities[11] in respect of the child,[12] and of the leave for victims of family violence (paid and unpaid).[13]

 

Bereavement leave

Starting September 29, 2021, family members of the deceased may take an additional five days of bereavement leave, bringing the total up to ten days. Lawmakers are also expanding the eligibility criteria for this leave by making it available to employees who are on compassionate leave or on leave related to critical illness in the event that the family member they were caring for dies.[14]

Call for tenders leading to the award of a contract 

On June 29, 2021, federal parliament extended the scope of equal remuneration protection to more employees in the federally regulated air transportation sector working at airports. Consequently, the employees affected by contract retendering will not be paid less than what was provided for under the previous collective agreement if they undertake the same, or substantially similar, work.[15]

Authors:

Jennifer Nault, senior associate – Norton Rose Fulbright

Mikael Allaire, student – Norton Rose Fulbright

 

[1] Sec. 178.1 (1) Canada Labour Code (effective December 29, 2021) / para. 247 Bill C-30

[2] Sec. 178 (2) Canada Labour Code (effective December 29, 2021) / para. 246 C-30

[3] Sec. 178.1 (2) Canada Labour Code (effective December 29, 2021)  / para. 247 C-30

[4] Sec. 239.01 (1) b) Canada Labour Code  / para. 295 C-30

[5] Sec. 239 (1) Canada Labour Code / para. 344 C-30

[6] Sec. 239 (1) d) Canada Labour Code / para. 344 (2) C-30

[7] Sec. 206.5 (1) Canada Labour Code / para. 249 (1) C-30

[8] Sec. 206.5 (3) Canada Labour Code / para. 249 (2) C-30

[9] Ibid.

[10] Sec. 206.5 (4) (b) Canada Labour Code / para. 249 (2) C-30

[11] Within the meaning of sec. 2(1) of the Divorce Act.

[12] Sec. 206.5 (1) Canada Labour Code / para. 249 (2) C-30

[13] Sec. 206.7 (1) Canada Labour Code / para. 250 C-30

[14] Sec. 210 (1) Canada Labour Code (effective September 29, 2021) / para. 1 C-220

[15] Sec. 47.3 (1) a) Canada Labour Code / para. 245 C-30

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