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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:32
I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 19 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. The webcast will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee. Pursuant to the order of reference of Wednesday, February 17, 2021, the committee will commence its consideration of Bill C-220, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code with regard to compassionate care leave.
I welcome our witnesses to begin our discussion with five minutes of opening remarks, followed by questions.
We have with us Matt Jeneroux, the member of Parliament for Edmonton Riverbend. Representing the Canadian Cancer Society, we have Kelly Masotti, and once she has her technical issues resolved, Helena Sonea. Ms. Masotti is the vice-president of advocacy, and Ms. Sonea is the senior manager of advocacy. We also have, from the Canadian Grief Alliance, Paul Adams.
For the benefit of our guests, I'll make a few additional comments. Simultaneous translation is available. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of floor, English or French. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you're not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
We're going to start with the sponsor of the bill.
Mr. Jeneroux, welcome to the committee. You have five minutes for your opening statement, and you have the floor.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's good to be in this seat for once.
Before I get started on my remarks, I want to simply say a huge thank you to you and the members of the committee for agreeing to make Bill C-220 a priority. To interrupt your ongoing business to study our bill means so much to me, but also to the many stakeholders. Again, thank you.
It's an honour to appear before this committee to discuss my private member's bill, Bill C-220. I'm also very pleased to appear alongside my friends, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Grief Alliance, who I know will help answer any questions we might have about this bill.
Currently the issue facing many families when facing the death of a loved one is the amount of legislated leave. Right now, under Canada's labour code, Canadians are only able to take five days, with only the first 72 hours being paid. This has gotten better with the passing of bereavement leave, but we've all heard that it's simply not compassionate enough. The leave still ends within days of a loved one's death, leaving little time to take care of practical necessities such as funeral and estate planning, and most importantly, to grieve.
I've heard from many people who have taken the leave that having to return to work so soon after the death resulted in more lost work time down the road. They ended up having to take more time off to process the death and to grieve. Bereavement has become a topic that we as representatives must continue to discuss. We've seen 20,000 Canadians die from COVID-19 in the last year. Many have had to say goodbye to their loved ones through a paned glass window, and those are the lucky ones. That leaves thousands of Canadians to grieve while trying to juggle their jobs and other personal responsibilities.
Grief impacts all people differently, and while some people might want to return to work quickly, that's not always the case for others. It's important to have bereavement supports in place for Canadians, especially as our population ages. Now is an important time to be talking about grief and its impact on workers. Every Canadian will be impacted by grief at some point in their lives, and this fact has been especially poignant during COVID-19.
My final topic that I'd like to touch on before I turn the floor over to the experts is the nature in which this bill was drafted and is now in the process of being amended. I've said it in the House of Commons, I've said it in public and I've said it during countless media interviews, but a real success of this bill has been the collaboration around the importance of supporting grief. I again thank the many stakeholders who have weighed in over countless hours while we explored this topic, especially our friends in the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, and particularly the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association, where this idea all began.
I also think it's important to recognize the tremendous support offered by the Minister of Labour and her parliamentary secretary, the member for Mount Royal. This is a real story that really does need to be told. Working across the party lines with the Bloc Québécois member for Thérèse-De Blainville and the NDP member for Elmwood—Transcona is a real example of parliamentarians working together to truly make our country better.
It's because of all their tireless advocacy that we today have an opportunity to make more bereavement supports available to working Canadians. Enacting these changes will help millions right when they need it the most.
Thanks again for having me at your committee.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:37
Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.
Next we're going to hear from the Canadian Cancer Society, with Ms. Masotti for five minutes, please.
Kelly Masotti
View Kelly Masotti Profile
Kelly Masotti
2021-02-25 15:37
Good afternoon, Chair, committee members and fellow witnesses.
My name is Kelly Masotti. I am vice-president of advocacy at the Canadian Cancer Society. Hopefully my colleague Helena will be joining us at some point in time today.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you today Bill C-220, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code regarding bereavement leave.
As you study the bill, we are pleased to share with you perspectives on the ways a change in legislation of this kind could have an impact upon the many Canadians who are diagnosed with cancer every year and upon their loved ones.
This legislative change was needed prior to COVID-19. Our health care system is evolving quickly, and elected officials and governments across the country have shown incredible leadership. For that we thank you and encourage your continued response to the evolving needs of Canadians.
The Canadian Cancer Society has long advocated for increased awareness and flexibility concerning the needs of caregivers, and specifically for amending current bereavement legislation and regulation to be more flexible. The proposed bill does just that. It amends the existing framework to better meet the needs of Canadians, to be more practical and to address grief and bereavement.
Prior to a loved one's passing, some caregivers' responsibilities include managing medications, equipment, home care visits and medical appointments; personal care; preparing meals; cleaning; handling banking and financial management; and keeping family members and health care providers up to date.
Many Canadians every day undertake this important, invisible role. While improvements are being made, there is a lack of recognition of the role of caregivers and the role of the formal health care and social services they intersect with every day.
The peripheral role assigned to a caregiver by a health and social service system can often leave caregivers feeling discounted, devalued and not respected. Caregivers are as diverse as the Canadian population, but policies and programs that affect them seldom take into account or address this diversity.
Imagine being a caregiver every day to your loved one, managing their day-to-day care and, following their passing, being expected to return to work immediately afterwards because you have either no or inadequate paid bereavement leave. Family members, potential recipients of compassionate care leave, may need support as they grieve the loss of a loved one and try to manage numerous strains and stresses on their mental health.
According to a recent Statistics Canada report, one-fifth of caregivers provided 20 or more hours of care to an ill family member or friend, most likely an ill spouse or child. Additionally, 68% of the surveyed caregivers said they would have liked to receive greater financial supports.
The economic value of unpaid caregiving in Canada exceeds $25 billion annually. As mentioned previously, the needs of caregivers and bereavement leave are issues that needed to be addressed prior to COVID-19. COVID-19 has had impacts upon caregivers' ability to attend and support their loved ones receiving cancer treatment in a hospital setting and treatment at the end of life, and being able to say goodbye. There is increasing evidence generated by our support services, our patient and caregiver surveys and research by academia suggesting that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic caregivers are feeling increased amounts of burnout, stress, anxiety and frustration. These are having a significant toll on their mental health.
A recent Ipsos poll conducted by CCS at the beginning of February found that approximately eight in 10 Canadians are supportive of providing financial support for a family caregiver of someone facing a progressive, life-altering illness such as cancer. Failure to provide adequate supports and time to grieve can result in negative outcomes for the person and their mental health and increased downstream costs to the health care and employment sectors.
Bereavement programs are often part of the comprehensive care offered as part of palliative care—another gap in the health care system that needs improvement.
By making leave for caregivers more flexible, more Canadians will have access to the time necessary to heal, minimize economic hardships and help take care of some of the most practical business, such as planning a funeral and contacting banks and services providers following a loved one's death.
In summary, the Canadian Cancer Society supports the efforts of MP Jeneroux to highlight the need for greater bereavement support for Canadians, especially caregivers.
Thanks again to the committee for your time and energy today as you consider this practical and positive change to provide people time to grieve for a loved one.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:43
Thank you very much, Ms. Masotti.
I understand that during your remarks, your colleague joined us. She'll have a chance to support you in the Q and A part of the meeting.
Kelly Masotti
View Kelly Masotti Profile
Kelly Masotti
2021-02-25 15:43
Thank you.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:43
Next we're going to hear from Mr. Adams, on behalf of the Canadian Grief Alliance.
Mr. Adams, you have the floor for five minutes.
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 15:43
Mr. Chair, honourable members, thank you for inviting the Canadian Grief Alliance to speak to you today.
We are a coalition of grief experts and 150 leading health organizations, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association. We came together last spring to ask all levels of government to urgently turn their minds to this issue of grief in the context of COVID-19 and in anticipation of the deadly toll we have seen since then.
Grief is obviously not an issue just when there's a pandemic. Even in ordinary times, we as a society have been neglectful of the grieving, and that's why the CGA is pleased to be here today to support this legislation. We want to extend our thanks to Mr. Jeneroux for introducing the bill and to all of the parties for supporting it.
Almost every one of us has suffered grief in our lives: the loss of a mother or father, a spouse or a partner, a child or perhaps a close friend. If we have the time and the space to grieve, and if we are lucky enough to have the support of family and friends, after a time we rejoin the trajectory of our lives, even if the ache of loss never entirely disappears.
What the research tells us is that when grief is complicated, if circumstances prevent us from having the space or the support to grieve, it can transform into depression or anxiety, dependence or addiction, and self-harm or the thoughts of it. When this happens, it can create burdens in the workplace in terms of productivity and days of work lost. Of course, it imposes a weight of avoidable anguish on the grieving and those close to them.
So far as the law is concerned, many Canadians are entitled to as little as five days' leave when they have lost a family member, and fewer than that with pay.
If you will forgive me for being personal here, I lost my wife, Suzanne, to breast cancer four years ago. Five days is not long enough to organize a funeral. It would certainly not have been time enough for a family like ours, with two teenage children, to regain its equilibrium. I was lucky enough to be in a circumstance that allowed me to take several weeks away from work, and I could afford to do it financially. I truly believe that time was critical to allowing me to return to work a few weeks later and be fully productive, just as it was for my kids to return to school and resume learning. Those precious days helped us get some of our balance back and not fall out of our orbit, as might otherwise have been the case. As a parent, I shudder to think what the consequences might have been for my teenage children had we not had the time to grieve together.
This bill will create a right for a significantly large number of Canadians to a more generous period to grieve, to collect themselves and to rejoin the world of work. The bill does not concern itself with all the issues that the Canadian Grief Alliance believes must be addressed for a truly effective national grief strategy, for which we have also advocated. We believe nonetheless that if passed, it can be a beacon to legislators such as yourselves to do more, and to the provinces, which also must do their part.
Ultimately, we believe that bereavement leave should be paid leave, whether through employers or employment insurance. A right is not a right if you cannot afford to access it.
We also believe that there needs to be a network of grief services to support those for whom existing social networks are inadequate. However, the passage of this bill would represent a significant step by the Parliament of Canada toward recognizing that grief is a collective, and not just an individual, responsibility. There is an irreducible sum of grief that no family or friend or parliament can wave away when you have lost someone close to your heart, but there is a great deal that all of us can do to ensure such suffering is no greater than it needs to be.
Thank you very much.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:48
Thank you very much, Mr. Adams.
We're going to proceed now with questions, beginning with the Conservatives.
Mr. Vis, you have six minutes, please.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to both witnesses for joining us today.
Thank you, MP Jeneroux, for bringing this bill forward. I was happy to jointly second this legislation, and I am pleased to be able to review it further in committee today.
When I first was acquainted with this bill last year, it struck a chord with me. Mr. Adams described a personal circumstance, and I had one too. In 2008, I was a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa, and my sister's husband passed away suddenly. My sister was 29 years old and was left with four kids alone. My sister was living in Washington state at the time, and although I wasn't an immediate family member of my brother-in-law, it would apply to my mother, who had to return to work sooner than she would have liked.
This legislation is very important and does strike a chord with a lot of families like my own who have gone through tragic and sudden loss and are left with big questions about what to do, how the bills are paid, how to do insurance claims and having the time to sort through all that, let alone finding the space, as both witnesses rightly mentioned, to mourn the loss of a loved one.
Thank you for sharing that, and thank you for indulging me with my own story.
Mr. Adams, for the sake of people listening today, how is compassionate care leave different from bereavement leave under the Canada Labour Code?
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 15:50
I'm afraid I'll have to defer to Mr. Jeneroux on that. I'm not really an expert on the technicalities.
The alliance really believes that we need to move on a whole bunch of fronts to improve the provisions for the bereaved.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay.
MP Jeneroux, would you like to distinguish the two for us, please?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, for sure.
Thanks, Paul and Kelly and Helena for joining here.
The compassionate leave under which the bill was first developed solely looks at the caregiver, and rightfully so. However, when in conversations with the minister and the parliamentary secretary about extending bereavement from just the compassionate leave, which deals with just the caregiver.... The full bereavement leave deals with those...with sudden death, for example, a car accident, a homicide, cases in which you wouldn't have that caregiving time at the front end of a loved one's death.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
How many people do you believe, MP Jeneroux, would be impacted by this move to extend the length of leave past the death of a loved one?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Right now we know that there are about 11,000 individuals who take compassionate care leave every year. To extend this to the death of a loved one outside the scope of caregiving, the number would obviously be much larger. We don't know in terms of who's going to die in the future and how much time is going to be generally spent with them, but we're seeing with an aging population that it's just going to continue to go up and up as we see the numbers taking the bereavement leave.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you.
What has the response from the stakeholder community been to this bill since you tabled it in February 2020, and will the amendments to bereavement leave still allow for flexible caregiving?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll answer the second part, and then maybe I'll turn it over to Paul or Helena or Kelly to talk about the stakeholder aspect.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Seeing the response from stakeholders has been just remarkable. Lots of people have come out of the woodwork to show why this is important. The Canadian Grief Alliance is very key as a brand new organization that encompasses so many different organizations and really shows the full scope of them. I think, in the interests of time, I'll just turn it over to them.
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 15:53
If I could just say briefly, a critical part of why we wanted to address the issue of grief is that I think it falls in a kind of ground that people don't fully understand. Grief is a normal, natural process. It's not a mental illness. It's not in itself a sign of ill health. In fact, it's just the opposite, but we do know that it can turn into something more serious—a serious mental health issue—and that's why we were concerned, especially in the context of COVID-19.
I talked before about the complexity of grief leading to other difficulties at times. Of course, it's not just the people who have lost loved ones to COVID during this pandemic, but it's anyone who has lost a loved one, whether it's to cancer or another disease, who may not be able to be with their loved one, may not be able to have a funeral in a normal way, may not be able to gather with their family and friends.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. That's all from me.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 15:54
Thank you, Mr. Vis.
Next we have Mr. Long, please, for six minutes.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon to my colleagues.
Matt, it's great to see you. It seems like it was many years ago that we sat together on ethics, you and Pat Kelly, and all of us on the Liberal side. We did great work there. I just want to congratulate you on this. You certainly have my respect for bringing this forward.
Now MP Falk and I were a part of HUMA in the last Parliament. The study was launched for M-110 by MP Richards, which was the study for parents suffering the loss of an infant. During that study, through testimony that I will say was certainly compelling and absolutely heartbreaking, we certainly saw then the need for governments, our government, to show more compassion and flexibility when it comes to bereavement leave.
I have some questions. I'll ask them, and they can be for Mr. Adams, Ms. Masotti, Ms. Sonea or you, too, Matt.
My first question is this. Our government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that when workers are experiencing a tragic event in their lives there are supports in place. Can you tell us about the proposed amendments, and how you feel they will make this bill better and ensure that workers are supported?
Maybe, Matt, we'll start with you.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Wayne.
I really appreciate it. Those were fun days on ethics for sure, as new members of Parliament.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Yes, absolutely.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Again, the original intent of the bill, looking at compassionate leave, was built on some of the work I did at the Alberta provincial legislature, but what it turned into was very specific to caregiving and how caregivers are supported, which is important and needs to continue to be part of the conversation.
With the reach-out from Parliamentary Secretary Housefather and Minister Tassi, we said, “Why don't we look at broadening it to include everybody who would go through bereavement?” Again, it's for those sudden instances, a sudden diagnosis of cancer where we don't have the ability at the beginning to do that caregiving. It helps to expand that general scope.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Ms. Masotti, Ms. Sonea or Mr. Adams, is there anything you'd like to add to that or comment on?
Kelly Masotti
View Kelly Masotti Profile
Kelly Masotti
2021-02-25 15:57
I don't have much to add. I would agree with what Mr. Jeneroux just said. Any level of additional support for caregivers would be welcome. We know that when individuals are diagnosed with cancer, rates of anxiety and depression skyrocket. Throughout our surveying over the last few months, we're seeing the same for caregivers, who also experience those same levels of anxiety in helping and caring for their loved ones.
Broadening the bill, and the amendments suggested, are wise. Any additional support for people in a time of crisis is something we should all be very proud of and support.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Absolutely, it's very much needed.
Mr. Adams, do you have anything you'd like to add?
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 15:58
I'd just add quickly that we have a gap in the research. We don't really understand right now fully the burden of grief, how many people grieve or the pace of grieving. Certainly there isn't much in Canada to know with precision how much time people need. Those needs would be various. I don't think we know that. We absolutely applaud the changes and we hope that by being more expansive it will touch more people. However, we also hope that in time we can have more research in this country so that we understand more precisely what the needs are.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you for that.
We'll go back to you, Matt.
One of the proposed amendments we made to Bill C-220, the act to amend the Canada Labour Code, is to extend bereavement leave by five days, for a total of 10 days. We just talked about that earlier. Can you speak to the importance of expanding bereavement leave, and how this will ensure that employees are given the time they need to grieve and focus on practical necessities in the event they lose a loved one?
Mr. Adams, you certainly commented on that but, Matt, I'll let you go first.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll just be brief.
Similar to my previous answer, it expands that scope a lot more. Part of what we were seeing with the hurdles in the original legislation was that, as we all know, as members of Parliament we can't expand the EI component. We can't force the government to spend money. That was always a piece of the original legislation. All private member's legislation will not allow you to move along in that step, which obviously is a needed step. It's hopefully a next step, after we are able to pass this bill.
Right now, to be able to bring that to the 10 days, it sets that standard across the country, which we see 95% of the time provinces follow along with as well. It allows us to build that standard across the country.
View Wayne Long Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you for that.
Is there anything you'd like to add, Mr. Adams?
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 16:00
I just want to support what Mr. Jeneroux said. We see this legislation as setting a standard and setting a pathway for further steps, and at the provincial level as well.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:00
Thank you.
Do you want to let the Canadian Cancer Society have a brief comment on this?
We're past time, but if you have anything to add, Ms. Masotti, go ahead.
Kelly Masotti
View Kelly Masotti Profile
Kelly Masotti
2021-02-25 16:00
I don't have anything to add other than “I agree”.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:01
Great.
Thank you, Mr. Long.
Ms. Chabot has the floor now for six minutes.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Welcome, dear colleague, and I’d like to thank you for coming to tell us about your bill.
I’d also like to thank the other witnesses for being here with us today.
As you mentioned, the fact that we were able to get this bill on the committee’s agenda means that it can get to the House more quickly for adoption.
After your bill was introduced, I had the opportunity to comment on it as a colleague and parliamentarian, and I was very much in favour of it. It might not change the world, but it’s a subject that means a lot to me and about which I get very emotional. I’m sure you’re aware that we’re already very much in favour of the bill, and I can tell you that we’ll also be in favour of the proposed amendments.
There are benefits for caregivers, but most people receive employment insurance compassionate care benefits. The problem with both of these types of benefits is that they stop as soon the person dies, and the caregivers have to return to work. Now the bill that you have introduced is designed not only to protect, but especially to support, people providing care to their dear ones as they go through life, for days, weeks and sometimes even months. It’s important to be aware of the situation. No one should be penalized for suddenly having to return to work without having had the time to grieve. On that point you have our full support.
I have six minutes, but I don’t know whether I’ll have any specific questions for you. If you have other points to make, I’d be glad to give you time to explain them.
I fully understand what you’re saying about grieving. It’s true that people don’t talk about it much, as grieving is generally a private matter. Everyone experiences grief in their own way. The pandemic has made the process even more painful. Though I have not experienced it personally, I understand what it can represent. People need to have time and flexibility. We can certainly do more in this area, and that precisely is the intent of the bill.
As I have no questions, I’ll turn things over to you.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Madam Chabot.
Our first conversation that we had about this a few months back was enlightening from my perspective, in terms of where the conversation on the bill went.
It's scary to a lot of people to talk about the death of a loved one and to think about that period of time. I spoke to former Senator Carstairs who said that everybody dies and sometimes it's something you don't want to think about. You don't want to think about your loved ones passing away. The importance of having this conversation and the importance of Parliament voting in unanimous support of it is just that it means so much, not just me but to the entire stakeholder community.
If it's okay with you, Madam Chabot, I will allow the Grief Alliance or the Cancer Society to weigh in on some of that.
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 16:05
Madam Chabot, you said that this won't change the world. I agree with you that it doesn't, but it's the beginning of a change. The analogy that I would use is if you go back 30 or 40 years, there was effectively no maternity leave in Canada. We gradually expanded it in an iterative way over a number of reforms to a place where Canadians are more comfortable with where we are that way.
That's how I see it. As the alliance, we think that besides those immediate things that people may need that will allow them to grieve with their families or friends, we also have to think about many people who are in difficult circumstances and may not have adequate supports. Particularly when you think about this time of COVID, there is nothing to say that if you lose a loved one, you may not also have lost a business or a job or some other thing may have befallen you in your life. Those are complex circumstances.
We think there needs to be services to support the grieving. I don't want to get too much into it now, but we think they are different from standard mental health services because grief is a natural process. It's not a mental illness or something.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:07
Thank you, Mr. Adams.
Thank you very much, Ms. Chabot.
Next is Ms. Gazan, please, for six minutes.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
I just want to start out by thanking Paul Adams for his very touching sharing about his wife.
To Kelly Masotti, as somebody who lost both of her parents to cancer and has two sisters who are breast cancer survivors, I can't tell you how much admiration I have for the important work you do caring for families, especially through the disease of cancer.
My question is for either one of you. We know that women still perform a disproportionately high amount of care work within their families should a loved one get sick. We also know that women tend to have lower earnings than men. This difference is even more pronounced in the case of racialized women. They are the ones most likely to need this leave and the least likely to be able to afford it. Making parallel changes to EI is then even more important.
Do you believe it's important to make parallel changes to EI, especially considering that these factors predominantly impact women?
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 16:08
Absolutely. We believe, as I said in my opening presentation, that a right that you can't access because you can't afford it is not fully a right. I had that privileged circumstance. I did not have to worry in the same way that many people do about losing a job or losing pay. That was what enabled us to get through it.
We really deeply believe that this is an important next step. We've created the space, but now there needs to be some mechanism to allow people to occupy that space.
Beyond that, we would say that there are communities in Canada, particularly indigenous people, who come with a burden of grief to these individual moments in their lives. They may need services that are specific to their needs and are different from those that somebody like me might be eligible for.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
Ms. Masotti, do you have anything to add?
Kelly Masotti
View Kelly Masotti Profile
Kelly Masotti
2021-02-25 16:10
This is an easy position to be in right now, because I feel as though I can continuously just say that I support the comments of Mr. Adams and Mr. Jeneroux. Absolutely, we need to look at the EI system and make sure that there is a parallel commitment there.
Not to detract from the discussion right now, our organization hopes to see a comprehensive approach to all levels of care. While it is important to see this at the end, when we're talking about grief, it's also important for the cancer patient and the caregiver.
The Conservatives introduced the compassionate care benefit, which was passed in 2016. The Liberals supported it, as did our organization. As you are looking at this, it is so important to see it as a comprehensive approach. We need support for the patients. We need support for the caregivers. We need an extension to the EI sickness benefit. We need to ensure that on the compassionate care benefit we see changes to the labour code.
There are so many changes that need to be made to provide these practical supports for patients and caregivers alike when they're going through such challenging times or when they are preparing to return to the workforce. This is such an important issue, and I support the comments of Mr. Adams.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
My next question is for MP Jeneroux. I will start by thanking you for introducing this very important bill. It's certainly long overdue and I commend your efforts in that regard.
As we know, in order to benefit from additional leave, Canadians must be able to afford it. Parallel changes to the employment insurance compassionate care benefit would help Canadians so that they can continue to collect the benefit during the additional leave period created by this bill. We want all Canadians to be able to access additional leave provisions without fearing the financial implications, and we recognize that these financial concerns will impact women disproportionately as they tend to do more of the care work and earn less income.
I know it's an extension to the question I asked, but do you also believe parallel changes to the EI compassionate care benefit should follow to mitigate these financial pressures?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, and thanks, MP Gazan, for that.
That's one of the key aspects of this bill. Not losing sight of the caregiver is the one thing I really want to make sure we're focused on, but also what comes next.
As you know, and in the conversations I've had with your colleague MP Blaikie, there is the need for EI to follow this bill. As private members, again, we can't change EI. We can't tell the government that it needs to spend more money, even though I know you and I both would probably want to do so at some point in our days. However, we want to make sure that, outside the scope of our private member's bill, that's what follows next.
I've had very encouraging conversations with the minister, parliamentary secretary and others as to those next steps.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:13
Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux and Ms. Gazan.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:13
Next we'll go to Mr. Tochor, please, for five minutes.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much, Chair. As just a heads-up, I don't think I'm going to be taking my full five minutes here.
I wish to give a round of thanks to everyone who made this bill possible, and obviously to Matt for bringing it forward.
I thank you.
To the witnesses, you can see around the table that we have non-partisan support for this, which is very encouraging.
Matt, when do you think this bill is actually going to be back and hopefully get royal assent?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Corey, that's the key question, for sure.
Hopefully all things go well today and then after today it goes back for report stage to the House relatively quickly, and any sort of procedural measure we could use to do it quicker, the better.
That's the question I get from stakeholders all the time as well. When does it get to the Senate? When does it pass the Senate? When does it become law?
A very astute amendment that was jointly submitted by both MP Housefather and me was the three-month waiting period for implementation. After it passes, it allows a number of groups, organizations and the workforce to know they have that three-month implementation period once it becomes law. That's one of the amendments tabled, and I think it's a very smart one to ensure that it doesn't surprise a lot of stakeholders that you'll now be allowed two weeks of bereavement leave.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
I guess this is more of a comment to the Liberal members who are on here. I encourage you to talk to your leadership about getting this fast-tracked. The leadership can move on this as quickly as they would like. I believe we would find the Senate very open to debate and hopefully quick passage as well. There's no reason this can't be done before the upcoming election. This is too important to die. No pun intended—that's terrible. We need to ensure these supports are out there.
A question came up when we were talking about next steps with the provinces. Just to get the lay of the land, I'm not sure who would be the best person to talk to. It might be Paul, if you've done some work nationally or looked into this.
Are there provinces that have augmented their supports during this time period? Maybe some provinces have better support programs out there for grieving people.
Paul Adams
View Paul Adams Profile
Paul Adams
2021-02-25 16:16
I'll defer to Mr. Jeneroux, but I think there are quite a variety of approaches across the country. The importance of this legislation is that a lot of provinces look to the federal government in terms of providing models.
As Mr. Jeneroux suggested, we hope those that aren't providing this level of relief to the bereaved will step in and follow suit.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll comment quickly on that too, Corey.
We've already had some conversations with different provinces, and they've pretty much given the same sign that, yes, once things happen at the federal level, they will relatively quickly—I think our statistics show 95% of the time—follow what we do at the national level.
That will be important, because as soon as they fall in line, every Canadian across the country, according to their employment standards acts, will have that opportunity to access the bereavement leave.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you again, Matt, for bringing this forward.
To our witnesses, this is consensus across party lines and from coast to coast. I sure would not want this not to be passed, because it would die on the Order Paper if we had an election before it got passed. I would encourage everyone to do their part to make sure leadership knows that this should come through as quickly as possible.
Thank you, everyone.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-02-25 16:18
Thank you, Mr. Tochor.
We'll go to Mr. Dong for five minutes, please.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Chair.
I want to thank all the witnesses for coming forward.
To my colleague from the Conservative party, MP Jeneroux, congratulations on introducing this bill and being so consistent on pushing and shepherding this thing forward. I commend you for your dedication in voicing the opinions of many individuals who have experienced this, because it is a tragedy for any family to lose a loved one and have to worry about financial support. This is a very timely bill.
MP Tochor's question is a very important one. This is one of those very few bills that attracts support from members of all parties. We are in a minority situation, so it's great to see such a bill come forward from time to time, making sure Canadians are getting the support they expect from their parliamentarians.
I'm a new MP, and you obviously have a lot more experience in this in terms of legislative procedure. Is there anything we can do together to make this bill pass and go forward quickly, to guide public policy toward providing actual support to individuals who may find it beneficial? We know that this will perhaps guide some changes in the EI system—the calculation of EI and the formula—and we have also seen recent changes in EI providing additional support to Canadians, so there will be a cost factor in this as well.
What's your vision on this, and how can we move this as fast as we can to make sure Canadians will get the right support?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, MP Dong.
I still consider myself a newbie. I have one term under my belt, but certainly it's my first time through this process. I'm kind of learning as we go as well.
The next step is obviously the third reading and getting support in the House. If we're all onside with that and with the amendments, it would then go to the Senate. I started making calls to a number of the senators I know to encourage them, when it does come, to help see it through the process. I would implore you and others to do the same in terms of helping that along.
As MP Tochor showed, if or when there's an election, these sorts of things die on the Order Paper. The story of how this started, from the beginning through to the amendments from the minister and the parliamentary secretary, is a good news story to share with Canadians. I would hate for all that to be put aside if we don't get it through the Senate.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for that.
In terms of the EI portion, if passed, it will bring some changes to the EI system.
Can I get your thoughts on this? Do you think there are expectations from the public, first in terms of changes to the EI system, and then for Ottawa to approve this as quickly as we can?
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