Jonathan’s Law to allow extended leave for parents mourning the death of a child, passed second reading today in the Ontario legislature.
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns introduced the bill, inspired by bereaved parents like Vince Leitao, father of Jonathan Leitao for whom the bill is named, who joined Tabuns today at a press conference in Queen’s Park to support the bill.
“Parents who have endured the death of their child should not have to worry about losing their job when they are grieving,” said Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth. “Jonathan’s Law will allow parents the time they need before they go back to work.”
Currently, under the Employment Standards Act, working parents in Ontario are entitled to up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a critically ill child, but only an additional 10 days if the child dies. Jonathan’s Law would amend the act, to provide an employee, who has been employed by his or her employer for at least six consecutive months, to a leave of absence without pay of up to 52 weeks if a child of the employee dies.
Vince Leitao said Jonathan’s Law will help take some of the burden off the shoulders of grieving parents. “It is very important to support parents who lose a child. Right now, 10 days off is not sufficient. Not everyone will need a year, but that option and job protection is very important to have,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to go through this, but for those parents who are in grief, this bill will provide them with the support they need in their time of mourning. It will cut the added stress of potential job loss while they are away from work,” he said.
Tabuns said that while he is glad Jonathan’s Law passed second reading today, he looks forward to the speedy passage of the bill next year to help bereaved parents in Ontario as soon as possible. “Families are not asking for paid leave, they are asking for the protection of their jobs,” Tabuns said. “It’s time that this government recognized that any parent who loses their child needs the time to grieve, and to cope with their loss, without the added pressure of worrying about losing their positions. It is a reasonable request, and I am glad we are one step closer to being able to provide bereaved parents with the security they deserve in their time of need.”