On June 29, 2021, the Federal Government passed Bill C-30, Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1, introducing a number of changes impacting federally regulated workplaces and extending existing COVID-19 related economic measures.
Changes to the Canada Labour Code (“CLC”):
- Child Death & Disappearance Leave: The maximum period of leave for a parent of a child who has disappeared increases from 52 to 104 weeks, and eligibility for the leave extends to parents of children under the age of 25 (previously capped at 18). One of the exceptions disallowing entitlement to this leave (i.e., where it is probable the child was party to the crime) has been amended so that it only applies where the child is 14 years of age or older at the time of the crime, and it is probable the child was party to the crime. This change came into effect on June 29, 2021.
- Increase in Federal Minimum Wage: Beginning December 29, 2021, the federal minimum hourly wage rate will be increased to $15.00. On April 1st of each year following, the minimum hourly wage rate will be incrementally adjusted to account for inflation. Where a province or territory provides for a minimum wage that is greater than the federal minimum wage, employers are expected to pay the higher wage.
- Extended COVID-19 Related Leave: The maximum number of weeks for unpaid leave for COVID-19 related caregiving duties increases from 38 weeks to 42 weeks. Bill C-30 repeals section 33.1(b) of the Canada Labour Code Regulations, which limited the number of weeks an employee could take for a COVID-19-related caregiver leave to 38 weeks. This change came into effect on June 29, 2021.
- Extended Medical Leave: The maximum length of medical-related leaves under the CLC has increased from 17 weeks to 27 weeks. The amendments also add “quarantine” to the reasons for which an employee can take medical leave. This will come into force on a future date upon proclamation.
Changes to Employment Insurance Act (“EI”):
- Increase in Maximum EI Sickness Benefits: The maximum number of weeks of employment insurance sickness benefits that may be paid because of illness, injury or quarantine increases from 15 weeks to 26 weeks. This change comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.
- Treatment of Separation Payments: The EI Regulation is amended to clarify and simplify the rules around the treatment of money that is paid on separation, including severance and vacation pay. This will allow claimants to receive EI benefits at the same time. The amendments will remain in place for a one-year period beginning September 26, 2021.
Changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”):
- CEWS Extended to September 25, 2021: The qualifying claim period for CEWS has been extended until September 25, 2021. Additionally, for employees on leave with pay, (for example, “inactive” or “furloughed” employees), the CEWS will be extended until August 28, 2021.
- Eligibility Criteria and Level of Subsidization: On July 4, 2021, the subsidy rate began to decrease in order to phase-out the program as the economy reopened. For Period 18 (July 4, 2021 – July 31, 2021), businesses will need to demonstrate that there was a decline in revenues of more than 10% in order to be eligible for the CEWS.
- Repayment of CEWS for Certain Publicly Listed Corporations: Bill C-30 adds definitions for “executive compensation repayment amount” and “executive remuneration” to the ITA, as well as new sections 125.7 (14) and 125.7 (15), to introduce a CEWS repayment framework for certain publicly listed companies. Certain publicly listed corporations may need to repay some of or all of the CEWS that they received from June 6, 2021, onward, if i) a corporation has shares of capital stock that are listed or traded on a stock exchange or public market (or the corporation is controlled by such a publicly listed corporation); and ii) the total executive compensation paid to certain executives in 2021 exceeds the amount that was paid in 2019.