The province would like to hear from Nova Scotians on a proposal to make compassionate care leave accessible to more people. Compassionate care leave provides up to eight weeks of unpaid leave for an employee to care for a family member who is gravely ill and at risk of death. In 2004-2005, about 180 people were granted this leave under the current regulations. About 485,100 people are employed in the province today. During this time away from work, the employee’s job is protected and the employee is eligible to apply for the Federal Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit. The Department of Environment and Labour is considering amending the provincial Labour Standards Code Regulations to harmonize with changes to the federal Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit. In June 2006, the federal government expanded the definition of family member as it applies to the compassionate care leave benefit program. That made more workers eligible for employment insurance benefits so they could provide compassionate care. Under the expanded federal definition, employees can now claim benefits to care for a sibling, grandparent, grandchild, in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, foster parent, ward, guardian, or a gravely ill person who considers the employee to be like a family member. The expanded definition is becoming the national standard. The province’s proposed Labour Standards Code changes would make the provincial definition of family member – for the purposes of compassionate care leave – consistent with the federal employment insurance definition. This would ensure that all employees who qualify for the benefit have access to a protected unpaid leave of absence from work. Spouses and common law partners, children and step children, and parents and parents-in-law have always been covered. Any regulatory changes regarding compassionate care leave will be made after considering the outcome of the consultations. A discussion paper titled Enhancing Compassionate Care Leave is available on the Department of Environment and Labour’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla . People are encouraged to comment on the proposed labour code amendment before Aug. 7, by visiting the department’s website. Comments may also be made by calling the Labour Standards Division of the Department of Environment and Labour at 1-888-315-0110, faxing a letter to 902-424-0648, e-mailing [email protected], or by writing to Labour Standards Division, Department of Environment and Labour, P.O. Box 697, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2T8.