This is page numbers 2525 - 2568 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was going.

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Committee Motion 89-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Public Consultation on Prescribed Emergency Provisions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. The way the bill reads, the Minister does have the ability to bring forward regulations to further describe, or prescribe, I guess, in what situations unpaid emergency leave would be made available to employees. The Union of Northern Workers, in its written submission, suggested that, if and when these regulations are made, it would be a good idea to allow for a period of some form of public consultation. That's consistent with a lot of things that we heard in the last Assembly about interest in public participation and public comment on the development of regulations, so I do support this motion. I thank the Union of Northern Workers for bringing it forward, and I hope that the Minister will accept this and find a way for the public to have some involvement in finding in what situations this emergency leave might continue after this pandemic. Thanks, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 89-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Public Consultation on Prescribed Emergency Provisions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. To the motion.

Committee Motion 89-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Public Consultation on Prescribed Emergency Provisions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 89-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Public Consultation on Prescribed Emergency Provisions, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Member for Kam Lake.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

March 12th, 2021

Page 2540

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I move that this committee recommends that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment undertake a review of the territorial government programs and policies to allow financial resources to be made available while an employee is required to take unpaid emergency leave. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. Yes. This issue was raised in written submissions from the Status of Women Council and the Union of Northern Workers. As I mentioned earlier, it is good that people will have access to unpaid emergency leave. What that means is that, if they have to go and self-isolate, an employer has to allow them to take the time off. It's unpaid, but their job is kept for them so that they can return to a job. It's not just the individual employee; it can be a member of their family who might need care, and so on. I think that's a good thing to do, and in fact, we are actually required to do it, if you read the plain-language version of the bill, because we have accepted through the Safe Restart Program that the federal government has. We were required to make this change to our legislation, so that's a good thing.

The downside is that, as I said earlier, there is no incentive for someone to take the unpaid leave. Some people are just not going to even be able to afford to take unpaid leave, so there is no incentive for someone to self-isolate and stop a pandemic, necessarily. Thank goodness we have the federal funding now, during the pandemic. When that's finished, I'm not sure that this is going to help, and that's, I think, precisely what the Status of Women Council said. We need to find a way to ensure that, if we want people to behave correctly and isolate and so on, there has to be a bit of an incentive to help them do that. They have to be able to continue to make some kind of a living. How that gets covered is the essence of this motion. Is it something that should be covered by the employer, should it be covered by government, or a combination of those? That's an interesting question, and I think that's what is at the heart of this motion, is to consider whether we can find ways to support people who need to take emergency leave and how we're going to pay for that. So I would encourage that the Cabinet respond positively to this motion and investigate ways to make this unpaid emergency leave actually paid into the future. Thanks, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2540

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Member for Great Slave.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Chair. Further to those comments, though, I would like to go to bat for the business industry. The majority of our private sector is small businesses, considered small businesses when you look at the rest of southern Canada, et cetera, so if the GNWT looks at this and decides to put the burden or the onus back on the private sector, save a few large, large mines that might be able to handle it, I don't think others would. I'm just putting forward that I would very much like to see the government consider creating a social program for emergency access. I don't know what you would call that, but something similar to, say, a FEMA-type situation in the US where, if there is an emergency, people can apply for it, you have several pots of funding throughout all of your departments that cover this type of situation. We saw it for ENR with the trappers mitigation fund, so maybe perhaps, rather than having these little pots of money sprinkled in all the departments, it should become a centralized emergency fund that anybody can access and that would reduce some of the red tape and duplication of effort. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife North.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm supportive of this motion and conducting the review, but I just want to make a few comments. Right now, the Northwest Territories provides five unpaid sick days a year. The Yukon provides 12. We're actually kind of behind in a lot of our employment standards. I know there was a huge debate about paid sick days and putting that burden on the employer. We probably couldn't jump to 14 paid sick days right away. There would need to be some sort of government support, but as the Member for Frame Lake noted, right now, the federal government has a program. There is an appetite. The federal government has been reaching out to the provinces and territories to find a way for Canada to get paid sick leave. We're kind of in this tension, this roadblock where no one wants to go first, but I think this is something our government needs to take on and be a champion for, that there is some sort of path to paid sick leave, whether that is, as the Member for Great Slave mentions, an emergency fund that people can access from government; or the way vacation pay works, is it's taken off your paycheque and then banked and then you access that leave that we mandate through the Employment Standards Act.

There are different ways to get to paid sick days, but the legislation that was brought forward is, I guess, okay. We probably should have passed this months ago, when people actually needed their leave much sooner during the pandemic, and I guess the government kind of failed on the opportunity to find a path forward for paid sick leave. I know there are people right now who are hiding the fact that they're sick and they are still going to work because they can't afford to take paid sick days, and that is a risk to all of our public health and safety. The fact that we're now, a year into this pandemic, asking the government to go and find a way to solve this problem just means it was an unambitious bill in the first place. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. To the motion.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 90-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Financial Resources for Employees on Unpaid Emergency Leave, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2541

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Member for Kam Lake.

Committee Motion 91-19(2): Committee Report 12-19(2) - Standing Committee on Social Development - Report on the Review of Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act - Government Response to Recommendations, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Madam Chair. I move that this committee recommends that the Government of the Northwest Territories provide a response to the recommendations contained in this report within 120 days. Thank you, Madam Chair.