Note: This story was updated at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening
by Stephen Dafoe
Legislation passed Wednesday night amends the Employment Standards Code to make sure working Albertans get up to three hours of paid, job-protected leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing employees to take the needed time from work without fear of penalty, reprisal or loss of pay.
“By providing choice without consequence, we continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Albertans,” said Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration in a release Wednesday. “Nobody should have to choose between getting vaccinated and putting food on the table and with this legislation, nobody will have to.”
The amendment takes effect on the day the Bill receives its first reading and will apply to all employees regardless of job status or time on the job.
Bill 71, COVID Vaccination Leave, passed during a 30-minute debate Wednesday, the day after it was proposed to the government by Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
“We need to do everything we can to get Albertans vaccinated,” Notley said in a media release Wednesday evening. “This is our best weapon against COVID-19 and the best way to keep workers and the people they interact with safe. We can’t have workers logging in to book a vaccination appointment only to find the times available conflict with their work schedule.
“I am glad that the Legislature has come together to unanimously pass this critical law in a single day.”
Similar legislation was passed in British Columbia earlier this week and Saskatchewan adopted measures to allow for paid leave to get the vaccine in mid-March.