The province’s labour minister says he will fully support a private member’s bill that would allow parents who have lost a child to have up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave from work.
New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns introduced Bill 175, dubbed Jonathan’s Law, on Tuesday.
Currently, under the Employment Standards act, bereaved parents are entitled to up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child who is critically ill.
If that child dies, however, that leave finishes at the end of the week, and the employee has only an additional 10 days of personal emergency leave under the act. If the child died as a result of a crime, a parent is entitled to up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave.
“What people have experienced is that 10 days is not actually adequate to deal with the impact of the loss and the death,” said Tabuns. “So this would allow those parents to have the length of time they need to deal with the grieving process.”
The law would give parents who have lost a child protection so they could take time to grieve and not have to worry about job security, Tabuns said.
Speaking to reporters, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said he would fully support the bill.
“In the past, governments of all levels have really relied on the goodwill of employers themselves,” said Flynn.
“You’ve seen leaves introduced at the provincial level that cover off a lot of those things that accompany a normal life and I think we’re just starting to come to the realization as a government that those are daily events in the lives of people in this province of Ontario and our employment legislation should reflect the reality of that.”
The bill is named after the teenage son of Vince and Espy Leitao who died of terminal liver cancer.