Above: Lethbridge mom Amanda Jenson was fired from her job because she needed to care for her son who has leukemia. The government says proposed changes to Alberta’s workplace legislation will help fix that. – GOA Photo

by Morinville News Staff

The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act would support family-friendly workplaces and bring Alberta’s standards into alignment with the rest of Canada, the government said Wednesday.

The government says the proposed changes are the result of previous government reviews as well as consultations with Albertans in a variety of sectors. More than 7,000 submissions were received.

“All Albertans deserve to be treated fairly at work. Modern and balanced workplace laws protect the rights of Albertans, support their families and help businesses stay competitive,” said Christina Gray, Minister of Labour. “Updates and improvements to Alberta’s labour legislation are long overdue. The proposed changes ensure Albertans have the same rights as other Canadians while also supporting a strong economy. They respect the important balance of our labour relations system and will make our standards more family-friendly.”

If passed, the government says its amendments would improve and align maternity leave and compassionate care leave with federal policies. Maternity leave would be extended by one week to 16 weeks, parental leave would be extended from 37 weeks to 52 weeks, and compassionate care leave would be extended from eight weeks to 27 weeks.

The changes would guarantee job protection for new unpaid leaves, including Long-term Illness and Injury Leave (16 weeks), Personal and Family Responsibility Leave (five days), Bereavement Leave (three days), Domestic Violence Leave (10 days), Citizenship Ceremony Leave (half-day), Critical Illness of a Child Leave (36 weeks), Death or Disappearance of a Child (52 weeks when a child disappeared as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks when a child died as a result of a crime). The changes also set the eligibility period for all job-protected leaves at 90 days of employment.

The Wildrose said Wednesday the new legislation from the NDP government is omnibus in nature and should be split into two components to allow for faster passage of compassionate care.

“Wildrose is sincere in updating employment standards in the province to protect those on compassionate leave, and want to work with the government to have them pass as quickly as possible,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “It’s our hope that the NDP government will recognize that these compassionate care components are separate and distinct from the labour code changes that require greater consultation, and will split the legislation into two.”

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