Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 101, Supplement 1, pp S9–S15 | Cite as

Paid Health and Family Leave: The Canadian Experience in the Global Context

  • S. Jody Heymann
  • Megan Gerecke
  • Martine Chaussard
Quantitative Research



Two thirds of Canadian adults participate in the workforce. Their health and that of their families can be markedly affected by the availability of paid sick leave, paid leave to care for family members’ health and paid parental leave.


We gathered data from all Canadian provinces and territories on these essential leave policies and compared Canadian policies with data collected on 186 United Nations (UN) countries.


While Canada pays sickness benefits for 15 weeks for serious illnesses, globally at least 90 countries provide benefits for at least 26 weeks or until recovery. Moreover, within Canada only Saskatchewan and Quebec guarantee job protection if sick leave lasts over 12 days.


The federal government guarantees Canadian workers six weeks of paid leave to provide care or support to gravely ill family members. Only 39 countries guarantee such leave with pay. Most, but not all, provinces guarantee workers’ job protection during compassionate care leave.


Eligibility for job protection during parental leave varies across the country from having no restrictions to requiring at least one year of service.


Compared with Canada, many countries offer a longer duration of paid sick leave for employees and replace a higher percentage of wages lost. Internationally, Canada performs well in having policies that guarantee paid leave to care for dependants with serious illnesses, but it lags behind in the provision of paid leave to address the health needs of children or family members’ with non-life-threatening conditions. Finally, while paid parental leave is of adequate duration, the wage replacement rate lowers its accessibility to families with limited means.

Key words

Sick leave family leave parental leave public policy comparative study provincial government 



Deux tiers des adultes canadiens se trouvent sur le marché du travail. Leur santé et celle de leur famille pourraient sensiblement être affectées par la disponibilité de congés de maladie payés, de congés payés permettant de prendre soin de la santé d’un parent et de congés parentaux rémunérés.


Nous avons recueilli des données pertinentes sur ces politiques de congé dans chacune des provinces et dans les territoires canadiens, et les avons comparées aux données provenant de 186 pays des Nations Unies.


Alors que le Canada verse des prestations de maladie pendant 15 semaines pour les maladies graves, on trouve à l’échelle mondiale au moins 90 pays versant de telles prestations pendant au moins 26 semaines ou encore jusqu’à la guérison. En outre, à travers le Canada, ce n’est qu’en Saskatchewan et au Québec que l’on offre une garantie de protection de l’emploi si le congé de maladie dure plus de 12 jours.


Le gouvernement fédéral garantit aux travailleurs canadiens six semaines de congé payé pour fournir des soins ou du soutien aux membres de leur famille gravement malades. Seulement 39 pays garantissent de tels congés payés. La plupart des provinces–mais pas toutes–garantissent aux travailleurs la protection de l’emploi pendant le congé de compassion.


Les conditions d’accès à la protection de l’emploi durant le congé parental varie à travers le Canada, allant d’aucune restriction à l’exigence d’au moins une année de service.


Par rapport au Canada, de nombreux pays offrent un plus long congé de maladie payé pour les employés et remplacent un pourcentage plus élevé de perte de salaire. À l’échelle internationale, le Canada performe bien en ce qui a trait aux politiques garantissant un congé payé pour prendre soin de personnes à charge gravement malades, mais il accuse du retard au niveau des congés payés pour s’occuper des besoins en santé des enfants ou des membres de la famille souffrant de conditions moins graves. Enfin, bien que le congé parental soit d’une durée adéquate, le taux de remplacement salarial offert limite son accessibilité aux familles à faibles revenus.

Mots clés

congé de maladie congé familial congé parental politique publique étude comparative gouvernement provincial 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Jody Heymann
    • 1
  • Megan Gerecke
    • 1
  • Martine Chaussard
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Health and Social PolicyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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