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Canada Labour report recommends unpaid emergency leave for Ontario workers

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A report commissioned by the Ontario government recommends all employees be granted a week of unpaid personal emergency leave a year.

The Changing Workplaces report, released today, was written by two labour law experts who consulted with workers, unions and businesses for two years on a wide range of work-related issues.

They made 173 different recommendations, which include reforms to collective bargaining, strengthening workplace safety and inspection practices, wage fairness for part-time, casual, temporary, contract and seasonal employees, and increasing paid vacation time for employees of longer than five years to three weeks.

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The report does not recommend extending paid sick leave to all employees, with the advisers saying it would be beneficial but extending personal emergency leave to all employees is a more important first step. They also recommend that personal emergency leave be available for victims of domestic violence.

Currently, personal emergency leave is mandatory only from employers with 50 or more employees, and can be used for illness, injury, or urgent matters, such as the employee's babysitter calling in sick.

The provincial government has yet to announce which of the report's recommendations it will follow.

Business groups, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, have warned the government making major changes to labour laws could have a negative impact on the province's economic recovery and lead to job cuts.

The chamber also warned raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour could harm businesses. Raising the minimum wage is not part of the Changing Workplaces Review, however, speculation that government is preparing to do so prompted the warning.

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