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A new piece of legislation tabled Thursday would increase unpaid job leave for both military reservists and Albertans who lose a child via miscarriage or stillbirth.

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Bill 17, the Labor Statutes Amendment Act, would add those who experience miscarriage or stillbirth to the list of people who qualify for three unpaid days of bereavement leave from work. It also eliminates the current 20-day cap on the number of unpaid days military reservists can take off to attend training.

“These are important and I think compassionate measures to recognize both grieving parents and Canadian soldiers, sailors and aviators,” Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference Thursday.

Alberta’s current bereavement leave allows employees who have worked at least 90 days for the same employer to take up to three days of unpaid leave per year when a family member dies, without having to worry about losing their job.

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Thursday’s bill would expand those benefits to birth parents, adoptive parents and surrogates who have a miscarriage or stillbirth. It does not explicitly define miscarriage meaning there is nothing to prevent those who have an abortion from also being covered after a conversation with their employer.

Current reservist leave allows employees who have worked at least 12 consecutive weeks for the same employer to take up to 20 days in unpaid leave to take part in annual training and Canadian Forces operations.

The current 20-day cap means reservists sometimes have to take vacation days to complete their training, Labor Minister Kaycee Madu said Thursday.

“Reservists perform valuable services for our province and country. We want to honor their commitment and their sacrifice by allowing them enough time to train for the very many challenges that they face,” he said.

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Both the bereavement and reservist changes would take effect when the bill receives royal assent.

Bill 17 also tweaks the current rules for who can negotiate contracts at post-secondary institutions.

Academic staff, graduate student and postdoctoral fellow associations have the exclusive right to represent their members in collective bargaining negotiations but that right was set to expire July 1 but the new bill would eliminate that deadline.

“It means academic staff, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will be represented by associations who have existing relationships with post-secondary administration and already know how to represent them well,” Madu said.

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