Alberta recently joined a growing list of provinces and territories that are amending legislation to introduce paid time off for workers who wish to get the coronavirus vaccine.
The legislation, which took effect on April 21, ensures all employees in Alberta are now eligible for up to three hours of paid time off to get vaccinated. The Saskatchewan government introduced similar legislation last month, also mandating up to three hours of paid time off for employees who want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. And British Columbia, which currently allows workers to take unpaid time off to receive the vaccine, plans to also amend its employment act to ensure up to three hours of paid leave for each vaccine dose. But workers in the rest of Canada still must depend on their employers to let them take time off work, whether paid or unpaid, to get immunized against the coronavirus.
In the wake of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.’s moves to mandate paid time off so employees can get the coronavirus vaccine, Unifor, one of Canada’s largest private sector unions, is urging all provinces to do the same for workers, pointing out most employers won’t provide it unless forced to by the government.
Provincial legislation would be similar to legislating time off to vote in elections, the union said in a statement. “We all know that vaccination is key to paving the way for the safe re-opening of businesses and the economic recovery we are all waiting for,” said Unifor’s president, Jerry Dias, in a statement. “Employers who are advocating for lifting restrictions must also do their part and remove all barriers to workers [getting] the vaccine.”
Some companies, including Canada Goose, Bank of Montreal, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Staples Canada, have already said they’re offering employees at least three hours of paid leave to receive the coronavirus vaccines. “While there is no plan for BMO to mandate employees to receive a vaccination, I strongly encourage you to receive it if you’re able,” the bank’s chief executive officer, Darryl White, wrote in a memo to employees.
Similarly, Metrolinx said it’s providing employees, including bus operators and transit officers, three hours of paid time off to get vaccinated. And in January, at least 35 technology companies across the country, including SkipTheDishes, Borrowell and FreshBooks, signed a pledge vowing to let their staff slip out of work to get a jab. “We want to send a message to our workforce, to our employees’ families, and to Canada as a whole that the vaccination effort needs to be a top priority for Canada,” the companies said in the pledge.