Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1 (“Bill C-30”), which gives effect to the Canadian government’s 2021 budget, received Royal Assent on June 29, 2021. Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave) (“Bill C-220”), also received Royal Assent on June 29, 2021. Of particular importance for federally regulated employers, these Bills will result in several changes to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”).
Fixing a New Federal Minimum Wage
Bill C-30 establishes a new federal minimum wage of $15.00 per hour, effective December 29, 2021. Where an employee usually works in a jurisdiction with a higher provincial or territorial minimum wage, they would remain entitled to the greater of the two rates. Where the minimum hourly rates for a province or territory are set based on an age, it is the highest of those rates that applies for the purpose of determining the minimum hourly wage to which an employee would be entitled.
Once in effect, the new federal minimum wage, except in certain circumstances, will be adjusted upwards annually based on the Consumer Price Index for Canada.
Expanding Existing Equal Remuneration Protection on Contract Retendering
Effective June 29, 2021, Bill C-30 expands the existing equal remuneration protection provided to unionized employees in certain situations where an employer succeeds a previous contractor as a service provider under Part I of the Code. Where applicable, the Code mandates that the successor employer pay the employees providing the services an amount that is at least equal to that which the employees of the previous contractor who provided the same or substantially similar services were entitled to receive under the terms of their collective agreement. This currently applies to pre-board security screening services at an airport.
Bill C-30 broadens the existing definition of “previous contractor” to include employers that provide:
- services at an airport to another employer, or to a person acting on behalf of that other employer, in the aerodromes, aircraft or air transportation industries,
- prescribed services to another employer, or to a person acting on behalf of that other employer, in a prescribed industry, and
- prescribed services at a prescribed location to another employer, or to a person acting on behalf of that other employer, in a prescribed industry.
There are no prescribed industries as of this date.
Expanding Existing Leave Related to COVID-19 for Caregiving Responsibilities
Effective June 19, 2021, Bill C-30 increases the maximum length of leave related to COVID-19 for up to 42 weeks in total (previously 38 weeks) where employees are unable to work due to specified caregiving responsibilities to a child who is under 12 years of age or to a family member who requires supervised care due to specified circumstances related to COVID-19 such as the person’s school or care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
Any period of leave related to COVID-19 taken before September 30, 2020 does not count towards the 42 weeks of leave discussed above. Bill C-30 also leaves open the possibility of increasing the maximum length of leave related to COVID-19 even further if prescribed by regulation.
Where two or more employees residing in the same household avail themselves of leave related to COVID-19 in respect of caregiving responsibilities, the 42 weeks (or such other number prescribed by regulation) would have to be shared between all of the employees residing in the household, and would not apply individually.
Expanding Existing Medical Leave
Bill C-30 increases the maximum length of medical leave available to federally regulated employees dealing with illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, as well as medical appointments during working hours, from 17 weeks to 27 weeks. This change is intended to align an employee’s entitlement to medical leave under the Code with the extension to Employment Insurance (“EI”) sickness benefits under the Employment Insurance Act from 17 weeks to 26 weeks and the one-week waiting period.
Of note, medical leave under the Code is also currently available to federally regulated employees who must quarantine, though only for 16 weeks. Pursuant to Bill C-30, this is also increased to a maximum of 27 weeks.
The change to medical leave will come into force at the same time as the changes to the EI sickness benefits on a date to be fixed by Order of the Governor in Council.
Expanding Existing Leave Related to the Death or Disappearance of a Child
Effective June 29, 2021, Bill C-30 amends the provisions on leave related to the death or disappearance of a child, as follows:
- Extends the eligibility for leave to parents or guardians of children who are under 25 years of age (previously under 18 years of age),
- Increases the maximum length of leave for a parent of a child who has disappeared from 52 weeks to 104 weeks, and
- Limits the exception that applies in the case of a parent of a child who has died as a result of a crime if it was probable that the child was a party to the crime so that it only applies where the child is aged 14 years or older.
Bereavement Leave – Bill C-220
Under Bill C-220, an employee’s bereavement leave entitlement has been increased to a period of up to ten days (previously five). For employees who have completed three consecutive months of continuous employment, the first three days of leave are with pay.
Bill C-220 also expands the group of family members in respect of whom bereavement leave can be taken. In addition to the death of an immediate family member, as before, Bill C-220 allows bereavement leave to be taken for a family member in respect of whom the employee is, at the time of death, on compassionate care leave under section 206.3 of the Code or leave related to critical illness under section 206.4 of the Code.
The leave can be taken in separate periods, but must be taken during the period that begins on the day on which the death occurs and ends six weeks after the latest of the days on which any funeral, burial or memorial service of the deceased person occurs.
Bill C-220 will come into force on September 29, 2021.
In Our View
Bill C-30 and Bill C-220 have a significant impact on a number of provisions contained in the Code and, consequently, on federally regulated workplaces. Employers should familiarize themselves with their new obligations in order to ensure that their operations and responses to employee requests are compliant with the changes.