Tired of after-hours emails? Budget 2024 plans ‘right to disconnect’

Click to play video: 'Right to disconnect: Can the federal government enforce this policy?'
Right to disconnect: Can the federal government enforce this policy?
WATCH: The federal government's budget is full of measures geared towards young Canadians, which includes a 'right to disconnect' from work after hours. David Akin looks at which types of workers will be affected, and if the proposed amendment to the Canada Labour Code can realistically be implemented – Apr 17, 2024

If your boss calls, texts or emails after hours, a change being proposed in Budget 2024 could give some Canadian workers the right to ignore them.

Ottawa plans to introduce the “right to disconnect” to protect federally regulated workers from constant ringing and pinging off hours.

The Liberal government unveiled the proposed amendment to the Canada Labour Code in the 2024 federal budget.

Click to play video: 'How Ontario’s ‘right to disconnect’ law works and what’s still missing'
How Ontario’s ‘right to disconnect’ law works and what’s still missing

“One of the realities of life for all Canadians, but particularly for younger Canadians, is this experience of always being on, always available. It’s not healthy, it’s not a good way to live,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Tuesday.

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“It’s not even the way to be the most productive,” she added.

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The changes will apply to 500,000 Canadians working in sectors such as banking, telecommunications and transportation, and are expected to cost $4.2 million over five years to implement.

France was the first country to implement “right to disconnect” legislation in 2017. Since the pandemic and the rise of remote work, other countries and jurisdictions have followed suit, including the province of Ontario, where it requires employers with more than 25 employees to create policies on the matter.

It has also been a demand of PSAC, the union representing federal public service workers, in recent years.

Canada’s proposed “right to disconnect” is one of a series of measures in the fiscal plan targeting millennial and Gen-Z workers; “many of whom have worked their whole careers without firm separation between work and personal time,” reads the budget.

“We need to recognize the additional pressures all Canadians, but especially young Canadians, are under,” Freeland told reporters.

The two demographics, which make up the largest bloc of eligible voters, have struggled with the increasing cost of living and an uncertain job market after the 2008 global economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[This budget] tends to focus on issues that will impact younger generations,”  TD senior economist Francis Fong told Global News.
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Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says there are hundreds of measures “sprinkled” within the document, like the “right to disconnect”  targeting millennial and Gen-Z Canadians.

The government is moving away from its previous message of “strengthening the middle class to fairness across generations,” said Page.

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