Liberals, Tories co-operate on extending leave for grieving parents

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OTTAWA — A Liberal minister struck a last-minute deal with the Conservatives before members left for the holidays to change the law to extend bereavement leave for grieving parents.

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Tory MP Tom Kmiec, whose daughter Lucy-Rose died at only 39 days old in 2018, has been trying to change the law to give parents who have a stillborn baby or lose a child more time off work to grieve.

The Calgary MP introduced a private member’s bill before the recent general election to try to extend bereavement leave, but, like most private bills, it did not become law.

In a rare outbreak of cross-party co-operation days before MPs paused for the holidays, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Tory labour critic Scott Aitchison struck a deal to ensure Kmiec’s proposed change would make it to the statute book.

O’Regan says the deal to insert parts of Kmiec’s private member’s bill into a Liberal government bill making its way through the Commons is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen often, but he felt compelled to act after hearing of Kmiec’s personal tragedy.

Kmiec says thousands of parents, shattered by grief but forced to go straight back to work, had contacted him to express support for the law change.

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