The federal Liberal Party is following through on an election campaign promise by introducing legislation that would provide 10 paid sick days per year to employees in the federally regulated private sector.
In a press release, the government said it will consult with federally regulated employers and workers toward the implementation of this legislation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the promise of 10 paid sick days this summer while campaigning ahead of the federal election in September.
The release also noted the government will convene provinces, territories and other interested stakeholders to develop a national action plan to legislate paid sick leave across the country. The legislation would also amend the Criminal Code of Canada to enhance protections for health-care workers and to ensure safe and unobstructed access to health services.
While the government said the legislation will recognize the needs of small business owners, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has raised concerns about the potential cost to businesses amid waning coronavirus pandemic support and ahead of an incoming increase in employer contributions to the Canada Pension Plan on Jan. 1, 2022.
“Small businesses simply can’t bear any additional pressure right now,” said Dan Kelly, president of the CFIB, in a press release. “If the government goes ahead with the bill it must find other ways to cut costs for small business owners, such as halting the increase in CPP and other taxes, balancing employer and employee [employment insurance] contributions and maintaining [pandemic] support programs at their current levels and eligibility criteria so small businesses have a chance to recover.”
Last week, British Columbia’s provincial government passed legislation providing a minimum of five paid sick days to workers in that province, including part-time employees.