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New Employment Standards Leaves for COVID-19 & Their Impact on Pension & Benefit Plans 

by Meghan Popp, Sophia Ma

Published: May, 2020

Submission: May, 2020


In response to COVID-19, the federal government and the provinces have introduced various measures to mitigate the financial impact across the country. One of these measures is the introduction of a new type of type of unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19.

As of the date of this bulletin, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and the federal government have introduced these new leaves.[1] This bulletin sets out the issues that pension and benefit plans and participating employers should be aware of in respect of these new leaves. It also summarizes the important aspects of these new COVID-19 leaves by province.

We will update this page as new legislation is introduced, so please check back for the latest developments.

New Unpaid, Job-Protected Leaves related to COVID-19

  • British Columbia - On March 23, 2020, British Columbia added a new category of unpaid leave to the Employment Standards Act (BC) - the COVID-19 related leave.[2]
  • Alberta - On March 17, 2020, Alberta also introduced a new unpaid leave related to COVID-19. [3] On April 6, 2020, Alberta introduced further changes to broaden the scope of its COVID-19 leave. [4]
  • Ontario - On March 19, 2020, Ontario amended the emergency leave provisions in the Employment Standards Act (Ontario) to provide for new leaves relating to infectious diseases and declared emergencies (e.g. COVID-19).[5]
  • Saskatchewan - On March 17, 2020, Saskatchewan introduced a new “public health emergency leave”. This leave is available if (a) a public health emergency has been declared by the World Health Organization and the chief medical health officer has also issued specific orders relating to the public health emergency or (b) if the chief medical health officer has issued an order declaring that a disease present in Saskatchewan is harmful to the public health and individuals in Saskatchewan must take measures to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease.[6]
  • Manitoba – On April 15, 2020, Manitoba amended the Employment Standards Code (Manitoba) to provide for a new public health emergency leave.[7]
  • New Brunswick – On April 17, 2020, New Brunswick amended the Employment Standards Act (New Brunswick) to provide for new “emergency leave” provisions. Under these new provisions, New Brunswick introduced the COVID-19 emergency leave by regulation on April 23, 2020.[8]
  • Newfoundland – On March 26, 2020, Newfoundland amended the Labour Standards Act (Newfoundland) to create a new “communicable disease emergency leave.”[9]
  • Federal - On March 25, 2020, the federal government amended the Canada Labour Code to create a COVID-19 leave.[10]

Click here to read the entire blog post.



[1] British Columbia - Bill 16, Employment Standards Amendment Act (No. 2) 2020; Alberta - Employment Standards (COVID-19 leave) Regulation, Alberta Reg. 29/2020; Saskatchewan - Bill 207, The Saskatchewan Employment (Public Health Emergencies) Amendment Act, 2020; Ontario - Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020; Federal - Bill C-13, An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19.

[2] Bill 16, Employment Standards Amendment Act (No. 2) 2020.

[3] Employment Standards (COVID-19 leave) Regulation, Alberta Reg. 29/2020.

[4] Alberta Ministerial Order 19/2020

[5] Bill 207, The Saskatchewan Employment (Public Health Emergencies) Amendment Act, 2020, amending The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

[6] Bill 55, The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act.

[7] Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020, which amended the Ontario Employment Standards Act. Ontario also filed Ontario Regulation 66/20 on March 19, 2020 which designated COVID-19 as an infectious disease.

[8] Bill 40, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act; Regulation 2020-29 under the Employment Standards Act

[9] Bill 33, COVID-19 Pandemic Response Act. On March 27, 2020, Newfoundland filed Newfoundland and Labrador Regulation 22/20, which designated COVID-19 as a communicable disease.

[10] Bill C-13, An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19.

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