Bill 71 was passed on Wednesday, ensuring that working Albertans can access paid, job-protected leave to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The bill amends the Employment Standards Code, allowing all employees in the province up to 3 hours of paid leave to receive each dose of the vaccine, without fear of penalty, loss of pay, or reprisal.
“The leave applies to all full- and part-time employees regardless of how long they have been employed,” reads the Alberta government’s website.
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The idea was brought up by NDP leader Rachel Notley on Tuesday, and Premier Jason Kenney was receptive.
Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said during a Wednesday press conference that hardworking Albertans want to get the vaccine, but some may experience barriers.
Employees may not be able to schedule an appointment because of their working hours, or they may not be able to afford a loss in pay for taking time off to receive the vaccine, the minister explained.
“This is directed at those groups of workers who may be working multiple jobs, [have a] lower income, [or] can’t afford to lose time,” Minister Copping said. “They don’t, quite frankly, have the time to do this and we want to make sure that we reduce these barriers to them and get them vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
The process moved quickly, with Bill 71 passing through all three required readings on Wednesday night. MLAs waived many of the bureaucratic amendments that typically apply when other pieces of legislation are tabled.
Effective April 21 at 7:30 pm, Alberta’s workers can now take advantage of the expanded vaccine rollout and receive their shot without fearing penalties from their employers.
The province suggests that, to minimize impact on businesses, Alberta’s employees and employers work together when scheduling leaves to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
“By providing choice without consequence, we continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Albertans,” Minister Copping said in a statement.
“Nobody should have to choose between getting vaccinated and putting food on the table and with this legislation, nobody will have to.”