The federal government is introducing new legislation that would provide 10 days of paid sick leave per year to roughly 955,000 people working in Canada’s federally regulated private sector.
The federally regulated sector includes those working in marine transportation, banks, postal, interprovincial air and more.
“Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between staying home when they’re sick and putting food on the table,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour via press release. “Paid sick leave will protect workers and their families, protect their jobs, and protect their workplaces.”
The release says government will work with employers, provinces, territories and other stakeholders to develop a plan to bring forward their paid sick leave strategy across the country.
In 2019, Ottawa implemented three days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers. During the pandemic, the federal government introduced the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit for workers without employer-paid sick leave.
“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,” said O’Regan Jr.
The legislation also would amend the criminal code, aiming to provide more protection for health care workers by creating a specific offence prohibiting the obstruction of any person attempting to access a health facility. The proposed new laws would also call for more severe penalties for offenders who “target health care workers engaged in their duties” or who “impede others from obtaining health services,” according to the release.
“No one should be intimidated for providing or seeking health care,” said David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada via press release. “This type of behavior is completely unacceptable, particularly during a global pandemic where access to health care services is essential for Canadian society to recover and thrive.”
The legislation comes months after anti-vaccine protests were held at various hospitals across the country.