HALIFAX – Nova Scotians who need time away from work because their child is critically ill or a victim of a serious crime will no longer have to worry about losing their job.
Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett introduced changes to the Labour Standards Code on Wednesday to protect jobs for parents and guardians, who are now entitled to federal Employment Insurance benefits or unpaid leave when their child is in crisis.
"As a father and grandfather, I can imagine the heartache facing families who would need to take this leave," said Corbett. "No family should have to worry about their job when they are caring for a sick child or in crisis because their child is missing or injured as a victim of crime."
Nova Scotia is just the third province to bring their labour code in line with the federal changes.
"This legislation provides protection that families hope they never need, but protection that will mean the world to them if such a crisis strikes," said Corbett.
The deputy premier credited Valerie Loveys of New Waterford, who lost her daughter Stephanie to cancer in 2008, for moving past her grief to help other families and fight for this change.
"I cried when I learned the government was making this change. I didn't realize how important protection like this was until my daughter was sick," said Loveys. "I felt it was my calling to advocate for the other parents who need to be with their sick children. You never stop grieving, but knowing that your livelihood is protected during this difficult time helps."
The proposed changes will create a new unpaid leave in the Labour Standards Code of up to 37 weeks for employees to take care of a critically ill or injured child, up to 52 weeks unpaid leave for parents whose child is missing due to a probable Criminal Code offence, and up to 104 weeks unpaid leave for parents whose child has died due to a probable Criminal Code offence. The leaves would apply to situations involving children under the age of 18.
An eight-week unpaid compassionate care leave that is already in the Labour Standards Code will remain for employees who care for parents and other family members. Employees could qualify for both leaves in some circumstances.
"We know that it will be hard for some employers, especially small employers, to hold these jobs," said Corbett. "But I believe their hearts are where our hearts are -- with any family who is coping with a sick or lost child."