Housefather wants Conservative MP's compassionate care bill moved to Senate

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, newly eligible as he is 51, gets his AstraZeneca vaccine last week.

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather recently reiterated his strong support for a private member's bill by Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux to give caregivers more time off work after the death of a loved one.

Bill C-220, according to openparliament.ca, proposes to "extend, by five unpaid days, the period of bereavement leave to which an employee is entitled and to expand eligibility for the leave to include employees who, at the time a family member dies, are on compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness in respect of the deceased person."

"This bill is a tremendous example of how people can cross party lines, work together and create a good piece of legislation," Housefather told the Commons.

The Mount Royal MP said that "especially during this pandemic, we have all seen the heroic role of caregivers who, after seeing family members become sick with COVID, have taken care of them in a way that puts themselves at risk.

"We have seen people take caregiving leave for years to help family members with cancer, heart conditions or other illnesses that are profoundly difficult to deal with. These people are heroes. The idea that our current law would send them right back to work, in the week when the person who they were caring for died, seems heartless."

The MP pointed out that people have to plan a funeral "or, if one is Jewish, to perhaps have a shiva, but to take care of the will and consoling other loved ones like children who, maybe for the first time, have experienced death. People need more time psychologically to deal with this before going back to work."

Housefather said the bill should apply to more Canadians.

"People who have been on bereavement leave up until now have five days, three of which are paid and two of which are unpaid, to deal with a death of an immediate family member. That is not enough. When somebody who is so close to a person passes away, that person needs more than five days to deal with all of the things surrounding death.

"My dad passed away last year after having COVID and then having a stroke. For the first time in my life, I had to deal with things like going with my mom to purchase a burial plot, to arrange a funeral, to make sure that my brother who is in Toronto could get back to Montreal for the funeral, to make sure that the will was notarized and in a place that we could access, and to deal with bank accounts and all kinds of things. While I am not really in a job where I can take time off, it would always be nice to know that I could.

"When someone has a sudden death in the family or while taking care of a loved one, they need more time.

After talks across party lines, "what we decided is that everyone should get 10 days, whether for loss of an immediate family member under bereavement leave or whether someone was on compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness in terms of taking care of someone. Everybody should get those 10 days.... I am in strong support of getting the bill to the Senate as soon as possible."

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