Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Federal Liberals aim to add personal leave days as Ontario cuts them back

The Trudeau government is seeking to give federally regulated workers more paid personal-leave days.

The Trudeau government plans to give about 900,000 Canadian workers more paid personal-leave days, in a proposal that seems designed to goad the Ontario government into an argument over workers’ rights in the modern economy.

The change is part of a sweeping set of proposed Canada Labour Code amendments put forward this week by the federal Liberals in their 850-page budget bill.

The federal legislation, if passed, would let workers take up to five days off each calendar year for reasons such as the care of relatives, children’s educations, or to attend their own citizenship ceremonies. Three of the days off would be with pay for workers who have had their jobs at least three straight months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have already battled over carbon taxes and immigration and refugee settlement programs. The new federal bill arrives while the Ontario legislature is working through a bill to repeal similar reforms brought in by the Liberals Ford defeated last spring.

Besides giving workers the right to personal days off, the federal government is also proposing that workers become eligible for general holiday pay, sick leave, maternity leave and parental leave from Day 1 on the job.

In addition, the changes would provide five days of paid leave for victims of family violence, unpaid leave for court or jury duty and a fourth week of annual vacation for employees who have at least 10 consecutive years of employment. The changes would also require an employer to provide a worker’s schedule in writing at least 96 hours before the start of the employee’s first shift on that schedule.

Related: Ontario to introduce $15 minimum wage

Related: Ottawa tables pay equity bill for federally regulated workers

The federally regulated sector includes public servants and employers in major industries such as banking and railways, in which many workers already have better terms. But Ottawa hopes the full suite of labour changes will set a precedent and lead to similar amendments in the rest of the country. Most Canadian workers are under provincial, not federal, jurisdiction.

A spokeswoman for federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said the approach is meant to improve Canadians’ work-life balance. She also argued it’s not only good for workers’ well-being, but for their productivity and the broader economy.

“What we’re doing, definitely, is we’re hoping we’ll set the example for provinces,” Veronique Simard said Wednesday. “Smart employers know that when you take care of your workers that it’s good for business.”

Attempts to establish national standards like these will likely be met with resistance from some premiers and business leaders.

In announcing plans to repeal the Ontario legislation, known as Bill 148, Ontario Economic Development Minister Jim Wilson said Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government “brought in a tsunami of new burdens and regulations that have imposed significant unnecessary costs on businesses and stifled economic growth.”

The Ontario government’s labour bill, if passed, would remove a guarantee of two paid personal leave days for workers, bringing the provincial total down to eight — all of which are unpaid.

Dan Kelly, chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, opposed Bill 148. He warned the federal proposals bring back some of what he considers its worst provisions and then go even further.

“This is a really, really unhelpful series of choices and I think they’re trying to turn back the clock to the 1970s by implementing a union-boss wish list of policies,” Kelly said. ”This is another giant step left for the (federal) government to try to hang on to some of Kathleen Wynne’s unfortunate legacy in labour policy.”

Kelly, who represents small- and medium-sized businesses, said the vast majority of smaller firms wouldn’t be directly affected by the federal changes. But he insisted they could suffer a big hit if unions are successful in getting provinces to adopt similar standards as those laid out in an updated Canada Labour Code.

The federal proposals also attracted support. The Canadian Labour Congress said they are “heralded by Canada’s unions as an important modernization of federal labour standards.”

“The Canada Labour Code used to be upheld as the gold standard across the country, but federal labour standards were significantly eroded over a decade by the Harper government,” the union’s president Hassan Yussuff said in a statement.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Unique treasures to be found at Chilliwack Christmas Craft Market

The 44th annual event is the Chilliwack Community Arts Council’s largest fundraiser

Chilliwack toy drive brings in gifts, money to Ann Davis Transition Society

People dropped by Superstore to donate toys and more for those in need this holiday season

Chilliwack RCMP find chemicals and cannabis extract in illicit lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Chilliwack RCMP seek suspects in rash of poppy donation box thefts

Incidents at four different locations in Sardis in the days leading up to Remembrance Day

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read