More funding for worker training, expanded occupational
safety enforcement and extended leave provisions are among the
changes proposed in the 2015 Federal Budget.
The Federal Budget brought down April 21, 2015 contains hundreds
of proposed changes to laws and funding which will affect employers
and the labour market, directly or indirectly. Among them are
reforms directly targeting the workplace, employers and employees.
Some affect the entire country, some the federally regulated
private sector and some specifically address issues within the
Themes from this year's Budget are these:
A heavy emphasis on the labour market, to ensure employers have
a pool of qualified employees to draw upon.
Greater support for employees' personal needs through
expanded leave and employment insurance (EI) benefits.
Bigger investments in the federal government's enforcement
of occupational health and safety in the federally-regulated
private and public sectors, as well as expansion of legal
protections for interns and persons vulnerable to sexual harassment
A major move on rationalizing the government's own
employment practices, by reforming and reducing expenditures on
sick leave, disability and workers' compensation.
Under the new "EI Compassionate Care" benefits
(employment insurance benefits paid to persons on leave to care for
gravely ill family members), employees will be eligible for 6
months' EI, expanded from 6 weeks.
The "Working While on Claim" pilot project, which
will permit people to work and earn while still in receipt of EI
benefits, is to gain a further $53 million in funding over the next
two years. This is part of an ongoing effort to reduce long term
dependence on EI.
The Budget establishes a $35 million fund to help immigrants
upgrade their foreign credentials. This is advantageous both to
individuals and to prospective employers. For more information on
reform to the temporary foreign workers program, read Gowlings
recent reports here.
Substantial parts of the Budget are devoted to various
provisions on worker training, with a heavy emphasis on
apprecenticeships (harmonizing federal and provincial rules,
improving tax support for the hiring of apprentices, granting money
The Budget has a strong focus on small businesses, with a host
of provisions funneling money or tax breaks to that sector. Tax
changes, such as a reduction of the small business tax rate from 11
to 9 percent and an extension to 10 years of the accelerated
capital cost allowance, will be advantageous to employers.
Gowlings' detailed analysis of these tax provisions can be
Approximately $250 million is budgeted, over the next five
years, to establish and fund Aboriginal Labour Market Programming,
meant to provide education and improved employment opportunities to
young Aboriginal Canadians.
Federally-regulated workplaces include private sector
employment in fields such as inter-provincial shipping, trucking,
rail, telecommunications as well as banking.
Changes are planned to guarantee new forms of statutory
employee leaves to meet family responsibilities, as well as
extended bereavement leave. This fits with the general EI
Compassionate Care extension.
The Canada Labour Code Part II occupational health and
safety provisions are to be amended to address workplace violence
and sexual harassment.
The Budget includes other Canada Labour Code
amendments to extend occupational health and safety law protections
to interns, and to "clarify the circumstances under which
unpaid internships can be offered."
The Government also intends to hire more inspectors to enforce
the health and safety provisions of the Canada Labour Code
in federally-regulated private and public workplaces.
The Federal Government
The Government of Canada employs approximately 250,000
people, down more than 30,000 employees in the past five years.
Rationalizing and reducing the cost of public sector employment
remains an ongoing objective for the Government, judging by this
As an employer, the Government of Canada plans to save hundreds
of millions of dollars from savings to be gained by cutting public
service sick leave from 15 to 6 days per year under a proposed
disability plan. The change has been uniformly rejected by all
trade unions now bargaining on behalf of public servants, but it
appears the Government will impose the reform without negotiating
The Budget also calls for amendments to the Government
Employees Compensation Act ("GECA"), a law which
governs workers' compensation coverage for employees of the
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