Conservative and Liberal MPs banded together just before Christmas break to extend bereavement leave for parents who have lost a young or disabled child.
The effort was spearheaded by Conservative MP Tom Kmiec who lost his daughter Lucy-Rose when she was 39 days old in 2018. Kmiec has been fighting to give grieving parents longer leave for some time now.
Kmiec says he was inspired to pursue the law due to his and his wife’s struggles.
“I experienced it first hand, and read so many stories of people who were so deep in their grief they could not work,” said Kmiec.
“There were intense negotiations. They made an offer that if they accept to put in bereavement leave, that we would expedite the bill.”
Kmiec’s private members bill was up for debate prior to the 2021 election, but the dropping of the writ brought it all to a halt.
Kmiec’s bill received bipartisan support this week after labour minister Seamus O’Regan struck a deal with his counterpart, Conservative MP and labour critic Scott Atchison.
“It became evident to me that because of Mr. Kmiec’s personal tragedy that the entire Commons felt very strongly about it,” O’Regan said.
“I know they were coming to me with something that meant a lot and was born from a very personal tragedy.”
The law change received royal assent last week and will now allow grieving parents in the public sector or federally-regulated industries to take eight weeks of unpaid leave.
Prior to the change, bereaved parents could take only ten days of leave total – five paid and five unpaid.
The extended leave is available to parents who lose a child under the age of 18 as well as those who have a stillborn baby following 20 weeks gestation. The parents of a disabled child who passes away are also eligible.