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Potential changes

over 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Please share your views and experience:

What are some advantages/disadvantages to a longer combined EI maternity/parental benefits and leave period (i.e., of up to 18 months, rather than 12 months)?

What are some advantages/disadvantages to taking EI parental benefits and leave periods in smaller blocks of time, over a longer period of up to 18 months (rather than over 12 months)? (For example, at the time of application, a parent indicates their plans to take a certain amount of leave, return to work temporarily, and then resume their parental leave.)


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  • WestCoastLEAF over 3 years ago
    I am writing this comment on behalf of West Coast LEAF. With respect to the first area for input, “Flexibility of EI maternity and parental benefits and CLC leave”, we strongly urge Canada to consult more broadly than the current consultation call and to do so with a lens that focuses on the impact of changes to maternity and parental leave benefits on women. We know that that cast majority of receipts of parental leave benefits are women, and we would suggest that this is at least in part because of the combined impact of gendered divisions of unpaid caregiving labour in Canada; the gendered gap in employment income, which creates a financial incentive for two-parent families to prioritize the income of the higher earner (often a man); and the lack of access to affordable and high quality child care. We strongly urge Canada to review any reforms to maternity and parental leave benefits through this lens and, in particular, consider whether the current proposals will support or undermine the long-term economic security of women by potentially extending their time out of work. There is some evidence that long leaves may actually reduce labour force attachment (for example, see: Joya Misra et al, “Work-family policies and the effect of children on women’s employment hours and wages” (2011) Community, Work & Family 14:2, 139-157), which is problematic especially if women choose to extend leaves because they cannot access affordable child care. Further, we suggest that any consideration of changes to maternity and parental leave policy must be considered more broadly in combination with other policies that support women’s economic security and role as caregivers, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the National Early Learning and Child Care Framework and other initiatives. It must include consideration of the need to increase benefit levels, particularly for low income women, the rationality and impact of for tying eligibility for those benefits to recent employment given employment inequality, as well as unique considerations including kinship caregivers, adoptive parents and others. We strongly urge Canada to take these recommendations into consideration before moving forward with the suggested reforms. Yours truly, Kendra Milne Director of Law Reform West Coast LEAF
  • Inara over 3 years ago
    Taking a longer time of 18 months reduces child care costs, creates more bond between parent and child while reducing pressure for mum to return to work.
    Hide reply (1)
    • JezebelJonesm over 3 years ago
      Its not that simple. after 18 months, lots of women could be out of a job by the time they get back or their careers would be severely set back.
  • Lorna Turnbull over 3 years ago
    Without a doubt, Canada's maternity and parental benefit scheme requires updating, however the proposed changes do not address the most fundamental issues and thus do not go far enough. The benefit level is so low that it is a barrier to lower income families to be able to access the benefits for long, if at all, because they cannot afford to live on such a significantly reduced income. IN addition, low income earners generally do not have employer top-ups, where as professional and other higher income earners do and so the system disproportionately benefits the children of higher income families and leaves children in lower income families out of the benefit. Further the requirement for 600 qualifying hours excludes many whose children are born too close together or who return to the workforce on a part time basis after the birth of a child and have not accumulated sufficient hours to qualify for benefits ont he birth of a subsequent child. As a result, these benefits are not universally available for the benefit of all children and their families but only for those whose parents can afford it, and whose patters of paid work fit a very narrow norm. And this says nothing about the rigid interpretation of the rules when a parent returning to work after a leave is then not eligible or has reduced eligibility for benefits if she loses her job, an impact that disproportionately affects female parents. If these two matters were addressed many of the inequalities (affecting women and children) would be addressed. As to the changes proposed, extending the period of leave without having enriched the benefits will again exclude many low income families and benefit those with at least one high income earning spouse or where employer top-ups are available. the idea of building more flexibility into the timing of the benefits is an important one and could perhaps be better achieved if instead, or in addition, [parents could return to work on a part time basis while still receiving benefits, thus extending the benefits over a longer period of time, addressing the financial impact and the bond with the child, and this could make the benefits more accessible to low income families. in my view based upon decades of academic and grassroots work on these issues, a complete redesign of the system is required and could result in better outcomes for children, women (who are still predominately the primary caregivers) and employers. I would be happy to consult with the committee that will be reviewing the public feedback and developing the proposed amendments to address these larger issues which in my view are legally required to meet Canada's constitutional and international legal obligations.
    Hide reply (1)
    • JezebelJonesm over 3 years ago
      Bravo! such a great response.
  • JezebelJonesm over 3 years ago
    so, implementing an 18 month option at a lower rate will simply lead to more women taking more time off and getting less money for it. Yes, its great that women get more time to spend with their child, but what about incentives... or better yet, a use it or lose it form of leave for dad or the other partner (like in Quebec). Implementing a longer form of leave is just going to further marginalize women, leaving them out of the workforce longer. What we forget about women being out of the workforce for that long is that they lose their skills, particularly if they are in rapidly changing or high skill professions, and their career trajectory stagnates .How about you do something that would really benefit women and promote sharing of the leave... or hey, maybe invest in more affordable childcare so that women don't have to sacrifice their careers to stay home with baby. You say you are a feminist government: shift the discourse, get men involved in caring for their kids, and give women REAL options.
  • engineerscanada over 3 years ago
    Employers across Canada need to actively attract and retain a more diverse workforce because “diversity has proven value for innovation, customer relevancy and project management as it introduces varied perspectives and insights” (Engineers and Geoscientists Canada: 2016). Engineers Canada is committed to enhancing gender diversity within the engineering profession across the country. In the engineering profession specifically, women remain severely under-represented with only 12.8 per cent representation in overall Canadian membership (Engineers Canada: 2016). Engineers Canada is committed to growing this percentage in order to ensure that the engineering profession in Canada reflects the demographics of Canadian society, where women constitute more than 50.4 per cent of the population. However, the current system for maternity and parental leave is often seen as one of the contributing factors to the attrition of women in professional roles in Canada; specifically for women within the engineering profession across the country. According to engineering regulators across Canada, some of the current issues surrounding Canada’s maternity and parental leave system that affect engineers revolve around: (1) inflexibility within the current leave policy resulting in difficulties for parents to balance professional demands with personal needs; (2) conditions of employment insurance (EI) eligibility that reduce the professional development of parents, especially if multiple leaves are taken, thereby jeopardizing the advancement prospects for that employee when they return to the workplace; and (3) the structure of the current leave policy increases employees’ disengagement from work projects and priorities while on leave. Given these issues with the current maternity and parental leave system, it is necessary that the system be improved and modernized to reflect the flexibility that has been implemented in other aspects of today’s workplace culture. This will go a long way to helping engineering employers, and employers in general, retain and attract qualified and talented individuals to the profession. Engineers Canada’s Support for Bill C-243 Engineers Canada fully endorses Bill C-243, entitled, “National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy Act” (Bill C-243: 2016); a Private Members Bill (PMB) that includes a national maternity assistance program and changes to the Employment Insurance Act. Engineers Canada believes that this PMB is a great first step towards eliminating the individual, organizational and societal barriers women still experience in many professions across Canada, including in the engineering profession. However, much more is needed in order to fully protect, support, and encourage women to participate in the workforce. Engineers Canada looks forward to continuing to engage with the government and likeminded stakeholders to better attract and retain diverse groups, including women, into the engineering profession to more closely reflect the demographics of Canadian society. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Proposed Options Option A – A longer combined EI maternity/parental benefits and leave period (i.e., of up to 18 months, rather than 12 months) The Government of Canada’s first proposed option for an improved maternity and parental leave package outlines that an individual can combine “maternity and parental benefits and unpaid leaves to be extended to up to 18 months at a lower EI benefit rate (more time off work, with less money per month)” (Government of Canada: 2016). Advantages: The advantages of this proposed option for an employee is the opportunity to have an uninterrupted 18 months at home with their newborn or newly adopted child if they so choose. This extended leave would also help families by providing them with six additional months to find childcare before having to return to work. Disadvantages: The disadvantages surrounding this initial option include: (1) Inflexibility within the current leave policy resulting in difficulties for parents to balance professional demands with personal needs. Mothers have been shown to be more likely to take the leave, as there are still employers that are not supportive of male employees taking parental leave (Government of Canada: 2015), thus not addressing this key barrier for working women. (2) Conditions of employment insurance (EI) eligibility decrease the professional development of parents are magnified with a longer leave, especially if multiple leaves are taken, jeopardizing the advancement prospects for employees when they return to the workplace (3) The increased length of the proposed leave policy amplifies employees’ disengagement from work projects and priorities while on leave. Research suggests that the more time women take on maternity leave, the less likely they are to return to full-time work (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 2016). (4) Extending parental leave to 18 months is not financially viable for most households. Option B -Taking EI parental benefits and leave periods in smaller blocks of time, over a longer period of up to 18 months (rather than over 12 months) The Government of Canada’s second proposed option for an improved maternity and parental leave package allows for the “current amount of parental benefits and unpaid leave to be taken in smaller blocks of time over a period of up to 18 months rather than over 12 months” (Government of Canada: 2016). Advantages: The advantage of this proposed option is that it allows employees a flexible leave schedule. The flexibility provides employees with the opportunity to remain engaged with their employer and to manage professional demands such as projects and initiatives to maintain their standing and career progression that would otherwise be impossible if they were away on leave. This may include assignments that have short-term deliverables or that are cyclical in nature. Option B also gives employees control over how their time on leave is distributed and aids in the balance between work and life. According to the Canadian Education and Research Institute of Counselling (CERIC), less than four per cent of mothers reported that taking a maternity leave positively affected their career and Option B provides parents a way to change the leave scenario to lessen its detrimental impacts. Disadvantage: The main disadvantage of this proposed option is the increased possibility for work disruptions as employers hire temporary employees to fill the individual’s position for smaller blocks of time over an 18-month period. Recommendation for Maternity and Parental Benefits and Leaves Upon review of the Government of Canada’s two proposed options for a potentially improved maternity and parental leave package, Engineers Canada favours Option B – Taking EI parental benefits and leave periods in smaller blocks of time, over a longer period of up to 18 months (rather than over 12 months). Although there are identified advantages and disadvantages with both outlined options, Engineers Canada believes that the Government of Canada’s proposed Option B provides greater flexibility in an employee’s leave schedule and allows for more opportunities for an employee to continue their engagement with their employer while on leave. Engineers Canada strongly supports a modernized and improved maternity and parental leave system in order to retain and attract qualified and talented individuals—specifically women—in professions across the country. Furthermore, it is important to note that the leave offered in Options A and B are not comprehensive strategies to successfully manage the entirety of the lifestyle change that is brought about when adding a child to one’s family. While the ability of taking a paid leave should always be an available option, the reality of today is that families require flexibility beyond leave. An employee should have access to arrangements that provide individuals with the ability to make the best family and career decisions. Options should therefore be broadened to include other alternatives than leave such as working part-time, teleworking or job sharing. Neither of the outlined options currently provides these alternatives. Engineers Canada also recommends that further consultations must take place at the national level with regulated professions, such as engineering. There are many outstanding questions left to be answered by both proposed options. For example, how would Option A affect a subsequent maternity leave? Would the current 600 insurable hours continue to be required to be eligible? What earnings would the second maternity or parental leave be based on if a family chooses to have their children close together? Also, as previously mentioned, 18 months is a long period to be away from work, therefore reintegration into the workforce could be challenging. Additional consultation will help clarify these two recommendations and ensure that the federal government is well positioned to make informed decisions on whether more options are required for maternity and parental leave packages, and whether maternity and parental leave truly belongs with the Employment Insurance program. Engineers Canada looks forward to continuing to engage in the consultation process and providing objective and evidence-based input that best serves the public interest. Our past involvement demonstrates that we can constructively engage and support the federal government’s efforts.
  • Meg Gingrich over 3 years ago
    This is a comment on behalf of the United Steelworkers union. We want to emphasize that the scope of the consultations is too narrow and is not nearly as comprehensive as it needs to be. The perspective of the employee, the care recipient and the family as a whole must be taken into consideration. The focus on extending the current leave provisions to 18 months barely scratches the surface as to what is really needed to make a more accessible and comprehensive leave system that allows true balancing between labour force participation and family responsibilities. It is simply insufficient to focus only on extending the current EI-based leave as a means to ease the child care crisis, in which child care is often unaffordable and inaccessible, with underpaid and undervalued child care workers. While meaningful reforms can be made to the current system, no EI benefit will change the need for a comprehensive, public, safe, universal, affordable child care program, with living wages for child care workers. In terms of the current maternity and parental leave system, we contend that improving access to benefits must be the first priority. Recent research by Lindsay McKay, Sophie Mathieu and Andrea Doucet found that 40% of employed mothers outside of Quebec cannot access the existing EI maternity or parental leave system due to a lack of hours worked or because of a low replacement rate (refer to Lindsay McKay’s comment on this forum for more information). As a union, the Steelworkers consistently encounter this in bargaining – our members cite the low replacement rate as a prime deterrent to taking leave. We have had success at bargaining top-ups to the EI leave; however, this is not something that should be fully dependent on belonging to a union. We present several options to deal with this: 1) Eligibility based on an income of $2,000 during the eligibility period 2) A reduction of the hours required to 300 (the pre-1990s reform levels) 3) A longer eligibility period (looking back five years instead of one year) All of these would help improve the take up of leave. It also recognizes that many parents have unstable work that does not provide them with enough hours to take leave. Additionally it would improve access for the self-employed, who currently have to register one year in advance of taking leave to ensure eligibility. Finally, the current eligibility criteria are difficult to meet for those who already have children and who may have to work part-time as a result of child care responsibilities. We are also very aware of the increase of precarious work across the country. Sadly the majority of these vulnerable workers are women (they are overrepresented in short-term, contract and part-time work). Often women are forced to leave a job that is just too unsafe to remain employed either before or during pregnancy which results in them not having the qualifying hours they require. We also contend that replacement rates must increase from the current 55% of pre-leave income to a maximum of $537 per month. At the very minimum, there should be a base benefit level that is not below the minimum wage. The maternity and second parent leave replacement rate should be increased to 70%. We also support the introduction of a set amount of leave for the second parent in a “use it or lose it” form. It is an important part of normalizing fathers caring for their children (it is usually the father who takes less leave or none at all, though not always). From our members, we have heard that men can be reluctant to take leave due to a social stigma and socialized gendered patterns of behaviour. Jurisdictions that have a “use it or lose it” second parent leave report lifetime personal and societal economic benefits: the relationship between father and child is strengthened; care over the lifetime of the child’s life is shared more equally between parents; and by sharing, the economic consequences of taking a leave do not fall as heavily on women. Special provisions should be made for single parents. Overall, specific leave and equalizing care responsibilities between men and women are important components of reducing the gender wage gap. Finally, we support making protective reassignments a workers’ compensation issue, as is done in Quebec. Changing the timing of maternity leave to allow for leave to be taken early does not provide additional benefits and does not solve many of the existing problems with the leave system. Often a woman is forced to leave her job for the protection of the fetus. There are countless sectors that have toxins, chemicals, designated substances and many other carcinogens and hazards as a regular part of a workplace environment. Requiring a woman to take leave prior to her child being born does not eliminate the health threats when she returns to the hazardous workplace shortly after the birth. For example, there are many incidents where a mother who wants to breast feed her child is unable to because of the toxins and carcinogens she is re-exposed to at the workplace following the birth. Taking an early leave at the front end of a pregnancy results in a woman having to return to work earlier than she would have wanted, simply because she was not reassigned or accommodated with safe work.Protective reassignments are a critical issue for both the woman and the fetus and if it is not possible for an employer to comply then workers compensation should be available as in Quebec. In all, simply extending the current leave to 18 months also could have negative impacts on the ability to re-enter the workforce. And longer leaves, which would disproportionately be taken by mothers, exacerbate pay equity issues. Ultimately, we continue to advocate for accessible child care with living wages for workers, along with improved access to the current leave system. Meg Gingrich on behalf of the United Steelworkers
  • EP over 3 years ago
    18 months off for maternity leave is long. I love the idea of being able to stay at home longer with my young child for the child care/bonding aspect but in theory, in my situation as a healthcare worker, that it is not something I would use personally. First of all, my family is already struggling to live on my husband's salary combined with my reduced income (currently on mat leave). So extending the amount of time for the leave but maintaining the same amount of benefits would put even more stress on our family financially. Also, there are studies that show that the longer women stay on mat leave, the less likely they are to return to work at the amount of hours equivalent to before the mat leave. They usually go back casual, part time or not at all. This puts a lot of strain on the workers who remain, and the company (or in my case hospital)'s resources. Also I feel that as a health care worker, being off work for 18 months would affect my competencies. I am nearing the end of my 12 month mat leave and know that I will be rusty going back. I can't imagine what it would be like after 18 months. That being said, I know no one would be obligated to to take the 18 months off and for some people having that option would be great. Personally, I can see more benefit to the parental benefits/leave periods in smaller block of time over a longer period. My husband was lucky to have been able to take 1 month of unpaid leave when we had our daughter and he chose to do it this way so that he wouldn't be taking time away from my mat leave (since it is currently 35 shared weeks). If the leave was extended, he could have taken 1 or 2 months of paid leave to be with us and help me out after a difficult recovery. Also, now that I am going back to work, it would been nice to have him take a bit of time off to stay home with our little one so I can ease back into work without having to worry about child care.
  • abbydog over 3 years ago
    As a health care provider in an acute care setting for over 30 years, I witnessed maternity/paternity benefits increase fro a few weeks to one year. I am against a further increase to 18 months in any format - 12 months is long enough! It was my experience that the maternity/paternity positions were rarely backfilled, placing a huge stress on the remaining workers, as most health care positions require 24/7 365 day coverage. On one occasion there were 3 FTE's overlapping, each off for 12 months plus! This played havoc on the work schedules & quality of life for those of us remaining. Many jobs today are highly specialized and it is very difficult to hire experienced replacements. This can be a huge cost for small businesses. Please note - in my 40 plus years working I personally have never collected one cent of EI
  • Valemacd over 3 years ago
    I am an employer and a Health Professional. There are a number of issues with the current EI maternity benefits. 1. The current reimbursement is too low. We should not putting new mothers under added strain while looking after a newborn. I have female staff that make significantly more than their spouses. Going on maternity leave puts an enormous strain on their finances. 2. 12 months is long enough. Being away any longer puts training and competency at risk. 3. Fathers deserve some time off with their new family. Let that be taken concurrently, but, again with better reimbursement. 4. EI should be paid out for Maternity benefits if the person has accumulated sufficient hours over the last TWO years- not one year. This would help people that are laid off BEFORE they go on Maternity leave. We need to support Canadians that are having children. Our demographics makes this a necessity. We don't need longer leave, but better paid leave. This imperative has to be balanced with the workforce demands of constant skill upgrading to remain relevant and the cost to the employer to find temporary, competent replacement staff.
  • julilal over 3 years ago
    I think some changes need to be made to the EI maternity/parental benefits and leave period. For one, an 18 mos option would be better for those who can not find suitible affordable child care. Also the consideration of Multiple Birth families need to be treated seperatly. Daycare or babysitters charge parents for two or more spots when multiples enter care, why should they only get 12 months with no additional benefit to prepare for entering childcare. I think a longer leave time (at full benefit) would be appropriate for a family of multiples. Also maybe some arranging so that both parents could take up to the time period too. Twins pregnancies (or higher count multiples) have a lot more health issues for the mother, and more frequently multiples are born earlier with more time spent in hospitals or medical visits. More support and accommodation would be appropriate in this matter. When I had my twins, I had a toddler at home. Luckily my babies came home from the hospital right away but we could have been in a situation where they needed more care for a while. We could not afford child care when my twins were a year old, so I had no choice but to stay home and not work but it would have been a much more difficult situation when if I needed my salary to survive. Many families are in that situation. It does no good to penalise them for having a set of multiples.
  • WorkingMom over 3 years ago
    The currently suggested Potential Changes are too narrow when addressing the need for longer parental leave and economically sustainable benefits. There is also a gender inequity issue at play. It was not economically feasible for my husband to take his share of the parental leave therefore I took the entire leave. This can lead to resentment of the spouse who did not get that precious bonding time with their child. Under the current max benefit allotment it is hard enough to pay bills. Although it would be amazing to have 18 months to spend caring for my own child, it would not be an affordable option with benefits being reduced and stretched out over the 18 month period. In my case when I returned to work I was faced with the fact that I had been off for 12 months and was penalized at work for being "out of the loop" for 12 months even though I kept up with all policy changes and work initiatives...imagine the backlash of 18 months :( The current minimum of 600 insurable hours for EI Benefits is a disservice to Canadian Families. If you are a loving parent bringing new life into the world or an adoptive parent caring for a new member of your family the government should be supporting us in this venture. If you are lucky enough to get a daycare spot for a child less than 18 months you will unfortunately be taking time off work because your infant will get every virus and bug out there and end up taking unpaid time off while still paying for daycare. If Benefits were at least maintained at the current rate for the 18 months your child would be able to get most of their necessary vaccinations prior to being forced into daycare.
  • Stephanie over 3 years ago
    I think that having dedicated paternity leave similar to the five weeks available to fathers in Quebec should be at the forefront of a discussion on benefit changes. Not only does it send the message to employers that paternity leave is an important Canadian value, it will normalize it for fathers across the country. Personally I think the system as it benefits mothers is great the way it is, but I am also on board if they change it to allow for that time to be taken over a period of 18 months rather than 12. I also recognize that either parent is able to access the 35 weeks of parental leave, however it does not send the same message as a dedicated paternity leave benefit would. I strongly believe that fathers should have the right to access benefits solely for them, and that employers will begin to take paternity leave more seriously only when it is legitimized by our government. Also, as a side note, I think that a longer eligibility period should seriously be considered. I have a friend who was laid off right before she got pregnant, and wasn't able to find another job before she was too pregnant to start a new job. As a result she was not eligible for maternity leave benefits. I think it's ridiculous that someone can pay into EI for years and somehow all of that contribution is rendered meaningless if they are not working the 52 weeks prior to giving birth.
  • ijs2016 over 3 years ago
    In the city I live in child care is unaffordable to most. I believe that allowing parents the option to take 18 months leave will lower costs in two ways. First parents won't need to pay for childcare as long. Since the child isn't in care it lowers demand in turn lowering prices.
  • gosia_jus over 3 years ago
    I think the advantages of an 18 month leave at the moment are that there are more daycare options for toddlers, and they are more affordable. Also, I think it could make it easier for some parents to share the leave. However, I think that affordable daycare options need to remain a high priority. An additional option that would be helpful would be to allow the parents to take the leave simultaneously if they want - e.g., they could both take the first six months, and then one could take the final six months. It would be important for EI to remain at the same rate for the first 12 months for families who don't want the 18 month option. And I don't think it's a good idea to reduce the amount of EI for 18 months at all. EI is already so low for parental leaves - few people have access to a top up at work and there are also single mothers who don't have a partner's income to support them. Even in families with two working parents, the budget gets very, very tight when one person is on a leave.
  • libby over 3 years ago
    longer leaves increase the risk of caretakers not being able to return to their previous employment – enforcement of this is already low. my sister-in-law returned to work after a maternity leave (as the benefit currently stands), only to find that her job had been downsized and she was terminated. longer leaves exacerbate pay equity issues. as a woman, my canada pension plan benefits will already be smaller than my partner's, simply due to biology. longer leaves make it harder to qualify for the next child.
  • Christine over 3 years ago
    Access to benefits should be the first priority. There are several options to improve access, including: a) Quebec model of $2000 of income in eligibility period; b) reduce hours required to 300; c) a longer eligibility period (look back 5 years instead of 1 year). This consultation process is an attempt to address the childcare crisis, but it doesn't actually help most parents. No EI benefit will change the need for a comprehensive, public, universal, affordable childcare program. Low replacement rates make maternity and patently leaves unaffordable for many families. We must establish a minimum level for special benefits that is not below minimum wage, and increase the replacement rate for maternity and paternity (second parent) leaves to 70%. I support the introduction of "use-it or lose-it" leave for the second parent (per the Quebec model). I think it's important for normalizing fathers caring for their children, and for a fairer distribution of unpaid care work in the home. The disadvantage of the longer leaves is that it increases the risk of caretakers not being able to return to their previous employment - enforcement of this is already low. Longer leaves exacerbate pay equity issues. Longer leaves make it harder to qualify for the next child.
  • CGL over 3 years ago
    As an employer that requires staff to have annual training updates, it is already difficult to get a staff member up to speed after 12 months, let alone 18 months. I don't mean to sound rude as we allow our staff as much unpaid leave as they want as long as the work gets done as it is, but the requirement to hold their job open for them is problematic. My bigger concern is that someone whom I've invested in for 6 months will already qualify for full maternity/parental leave. This means that I have to hire a replacement and retrain them... which... after 6 months, they would qualify for full maternity/parental as well. As a result, there is a huge risk that I will now be required to hold two positions available for two different maternity/parental leaves when there was only one spot to begin with. This is just not economically feasible for an employer to keep TWO positions available for only one job for 18 months and expect not to have massive training costs after that time.
  • Cindym_243 over 3 years ago
    I am an adoptive mother. Our daughter came home to us at 7 weeks old back in March. I am very familiar with how current parental leave and maternity leave is given in Ontario. I absolutely understand the 15 weeks maternity leave that is granted to pregnant mothers for recovery from childbirth in combination with their Parental leaves. However, with adoption there is a different type of recovery that should be acknowledged. Adoptive parents often have days notice to welcome a child into their home and also have a 28 day period where birth parents can change their mind. The initial period in adoption is filled with social worker visits and many parents have to continue to work from home while their leave has started because they have no notice. Adoptive mothers and fathers also need extra time to attach and bond with their children. I believe there should be some sort of adoption leave in addition to the parental leave to allow adoptive parents the same 1 year that is allowed to mothers who have biological children. Adoption and giving birth should be treated more equitably.
  • Andrea over 3 years ago
    Flexibility in parental leave is the theme of this submission. Parents today are working part-time, shift work and are juggling different schedules, all in an effort to care for their children in the way they prefer. Increased flexibility in parental leave therefore would reflect Canadians’ realities. Increased flexibility would allow parents to better balance work and home. Flexibility should reflect not merely the type of benefit offered, but the way in which the benefit is administered. In preparation for this submission, Cardus Family asked a number of Canadians for their feedback, which is incorporated below. The theme of flexibility is a reflection of their remarks. One new Ottawa-based mother says this about the process of receiving the benefits: “You should be able to apply and get benefits approved BEFORE you go into labour, even if you are only stopping work at the birth of your child. Then you could just send them a notification of live birth (or equivalent). Having to deal with Service Canada when you’re bleary eyed with a newborn is difficult and ridiculous.” She also expressed frustration that it took three months of back and forth before she received her benefit. Especially as she is the employee of a standard charitable sector employer, her case should have been resolved more quickly than this. Even contested or difficult cases should be resolved quickly. Flexibility should extend into the realm of reducing the number of hours worked requirement in order to obtain parental leave. Current requirements demand 600 hours. Dropping this to 300 would help the under-employed and those living near the poverty line, i.e. those who need assistance most. Flexibility, in the words of another Hamilton-based mother, means being able to take the time in chunks and/or take a longer leave: “After my first mat leave I had really good home day care and the transition was easier. After my second mat leave, both my husband and I were in different jobs, and we had difficulty finding appropriate child care. Having the longer time off could help with the adjustment for child care; it was easier to find childcare that would accommodate an 18 month old instead of a 12 month old. Chunks of time would be helpful especially if the parents are able to share the chunks. I think that it would help each parent get an opportunity to bond with the child, and it would help with the parents' adjustment to transitioning back into the workforce.” The benefit should be written in partnership with businesses so as to allow leeway for an employer who would find it onerous or impossible to shuffle employers in and out over shorter periods of time. Another point where flexibility and streamlining needs to be introduced: There should be room for mothers to work during their maternity leave without having all benefits clawed back. One Sudbury-based mother comments that “the policy for accommodating alternative work arrangements is good in theory, but in practice, it’s a nightmare. Flexibility should extend to making it easier to work a few hours a week through parental leave without losing benefits.” Flexibility should extend to allowing parents to decide who and how the leave will be used. While there was some disagreement over this amongst those we asked for feedback, in general, forced paternity leave ought not be considered in Canada as it is an incursion into the private lives of families. Parents need the freedom to decide how to use the leave they are granted. Finally, while child care is not the subject of discussion, it does dovetail in with concerns around parental leave. The creation of government-funded spaces detracts from parental freedom and flexibility and is exclusively for those who either are able to use this form of child care or happen to be in the minority of parents who prefer it. Increasing the length of leave to 18 months alone will result in decreased stress for parents attempting to find care at the one-year mark of a child’s life. Further, what we know of jurisdictions like Quebec that introduce a government-funded system for childcare is that wait lists remain. Given the working realities of Canadian parents, there is no one system that can help every family. As a result, the most equitable and fair childcare option government can enact will be the most hands off and involve money to parents, not spaces. There have been many polls done suggesting that Canadian parents prefer money in their pocket; this link http://www.imfcanada.org/sites/default/files/monthly_release/DaycareDesiresMay2013.pdf is just one of them. Andrea Mrozek Program Director, Cardus Family www.cardus.ca/family
  • Kim over 3 years ago
    I prefer the longer combined EI maternity /parental leave period over 18 months. This gives the option for parents (either one or a combination of the two) to stay home longer during this critical period of development. I guess you could have the option to pay out over 12 months as before but have an unpaid leave time of up to 6 months. I hope this gets enacted soon, so it is fair for those currently on leave or expecting in 2017.
  • Julia over 3 years ago
    Neither option takes into consideration the realities of the labour market, gender inequality and costs of living in Canada. The option for a longer leave period, but with the same total benefits, will only benefit the wealthy who can afford to earn less than $537 per week. Lower monthly payments will continue to discourage fathers from taking leave. In my situation, my husband and I first thought we would split parental leave - both taking equal months off work. Then we realised that, because he makes more than me (being in a male dominated industry while I'm in a female dominated industry, even though I'm more highly educated) it was not financially viable for us to reduce his salary to $537 per week. Therefore, I will take a year off (which will have detrimental impacts on my career and future earning potential) and he does not get the opportunity to stay home with our baby. The option of taking leave periods for smaller amounts of time will frustrate employers with little benefit to new parents. In particular, it does not take into account the difficulty in finding and affording child care for infants. Once parents are lucky enough to find an appropriate placement they are unlikely to give it up. If the government is serious about addressing the challenges families in Canada face, as well as addressing gender inequality, it will 1) develop a national childcare strategy 2) offer paternity, as well as maternity, leave. Canada falls behind other countries, such as Japan and Sweden, in terms of offering paternity leave -http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/10/daily-chart-10?fsrc=FacebookInstant&utm_content=bufferd58c3&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  • WendyD over 3 years ago
    18 months leave sounds great for the parents and for the new children. It is an important time in family life. I appreciate that it is even more difficult with multiple births or complications. Much of the conversation seems to be about financial issues of reduced benefits by stretching over the longer period. I did not see one comment about the Child Benefit of $533 per month per child that begins immediately after the birth. Remember that payments into EI are not intended to give a full wage to an unemployed person collecting benefits whether maternity or other reasons for unemployment, but rather to deal with immediate financial need for the short term. We (the taxpayers) cannot afford to adopt a Quebec model where the daycare subsidies by the public provide an unrealistic cost to parents for child care. It is, after all, the responsibility of the parents to ensure they can care for children when they decide to have them. I have two children and thought through the decision based on raising a family in our economic position without expecting handouts from all the other taxpayers in the country. Employers are required to hold a position for the person on leave. It can be a real hardship for the employer to find and train a replacement. If the need for the person is intermittent for 18 months it becomes almost impossibly expensive and difficult. Training is costly in decreased efficiency, time and financial considerations.. After holding a position open, in many cases, the parent decides not to return at the end of the leave. Now the employer is forced to find a new permanent employee.
  • sprenti over 3 years ago
    There are few advantages. Longer leave time is less important to families; more important is better remuneration. International evidence shows that longer and poorly paid leaves discourage father uptake and disadvantage women when they try to return to the labour force.
  • Lena over 3 years ago
    Agree with the many posters below... 18 months of leave is great, but the benefits must remain unchanged. Even the current benefit allotment is not sufficient, but to leave it unchanged (or decreased per month) is unworkable and unsustainable to the average family.
  • sami99 over 3 years ago
    Why do the benefits have to be reduced to allow an 18 month leave? Really? How is this helping those who need it the most? It will be helping those with high incomes that can afford to take extra time off but those people could afford it anyways by taking extra leave without pay. Has anyone in the higher up government ever tried to find daycare for a 12 month old? It's impossible! I have been on the waitlist since Sept 2015 and my child is 16 months old now and there are still no spaces. There is no option for me - I certainly cannot leave my 16 month old alone and go to work. The options really are a joke and I wonder if the government is just going through the motions and nothing will really change. I have a single baby and I cannot even imagine having twins or triplets or time in the NICU so I fully support additional time/support for multiple babies. Not only is daycare impossible to find but the costs are astronomical as well. I really hope the government is serious in helping parents!
    Hide Replies (2)
    • V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd. over 3 years ago
      While this might help a family, consider it from the employer point of view. I can imagine that if there were two equal candidates for the position, one a young man, the other a young married lady. If all other aspects were equal, I suspect that the majority of employers thinking of the maternity leave nightmare as it is proposed, would hire the young man.
      Hide reply (1)
      • Lena over 3 years ago
        So... don't change parental leave policies in order to give women a better shot of finding a job? It's parental leave. One of the parents should be able to stay home with their baby and while it's often a women, it's a family and societal issue.
  • Anna Rothney over 3 years ago
    Spreading existing benefits over a longer period will not help anyone but the extremely wealthy. The existing 55% income replacement level is already inadequate. Longer leave that isn't paid is not the answer.
    Hide reply (1)
    • ctanasic over 3 years ago
      I agree with all of this. Only upper middle class and higher will be able to take an extra 6 months with existing benefits.
  • ctanasic over 3 years ago
    I think lengthening time to 18 months is a great idea but personally if the same amount of payment that we have currently is just going to be stretched to 18 months vs. 12 I would not be able to afford it. What is really needed is universal child care. In Toronto infant care costs $2000 a month! Very hard to swing this financially.
  • wjohnstone over 3 years ago
    As a small business owner, I would strongly encourage the government to ensure the whole maternity leave is taken in 1 block. It is difficult, but worthwhile for an employer to accommodate a maternity leave. However, to have the leave split up into blocks of time they will work over an 18 (or 12) month period would be hugely detrimental to the operation of a small business such as mine. It is easier to bring in a contract worker to cover a leave if it is over 1 continuous block of time.
  • Workfair over 3 years ago
    12 months or 18 months is a generous option for parents that want to take time off to be with their children. The fact that it is funded by employee/employer contributions is a social privilege of being Canadian, not a universal right. While no one wants to see parents being reduced to poverty because they have chosen to be parents, it should be remembered that EVERY working adult is paying for this, many of whom have not had children and will not have children. In terms of flexible work schedule, this is a very slanted benefit for parents and a real burden on small businesses and their employee's. Small business used to try and job share and use temp services to accommodate the 6 month requirement, but when it went to 12 months it becomes a full 1 year term position hire. For many positions it takes 1-2 months to have someone fully trained and 6-8 months before they individual is 100% up to speed with the position. There is no way most small companies could accommodate temporary returns, abbreviated hours or any of the other options being proposed.
  • Concerned working parent over 3 years ago
    I do not think either of these options will have significant impact. Working parents struggle to balance the needs of their family and the demands of their employer. Canada's birth rate is steadily falling, which is in direct correlation to this issue. If we want women in the workforce, the focus needs to be on: supporting them to be at home with their children for the first year (through providing higher benefits throughout); and helping them access quality, affordable childcare when they return to work. An investment in universal childcare is an investment in our current workforce, and the early childhood education (and wellbeing) of our future workforce.
  • Anna Rothney over 3 years ago
    I recommend that the government look at increasing the replacement rate of 55% to something like Quebec's 70%. In addition, changes made by past governments to restrict eligibility should be reversed to make benefits more accessible to more Canadian women. It's a failure of our existing system that less than 65% of mothers outside of Quebec receive maternity and / or parental benefits.
  • bgiffen over 3 years ago
    I am the mother of triplets; our current system does not consider the emotional, physical and financial toll a multiple birth has on a family. Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives.” Points to consider in your comments could include: Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave time for multiple-birth families means more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, improving the critical bonding with their children and responding to each child’s unique needs; Extended parental leave would better equip the primary caregiver to deal with the emotional and physical stress of caring for more than one baby at a time, especially if there is more than one parent at home to help share the responsibilities; Many multiple-birth infants require extra medical attention including but not limited to extended hospital stays after birth, and extensive long term health needs. Increasing EI parental benefits and extending parental leave would allow families to focus on these short and long term health care needs of their infants and improve outcomes for the whole family. Increasing the number of weeks of fully funded parental benefits and the weekly benefit rate would reduce the financial strain of having one or both parents on reduced incomes, and the associated stress; The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy short changes parents of multiples. The basis is poorly matched with the purpose of the program which is to provide time away from work and financial resources to enable parents to spend time with their newborn child. Every child and every parent matters. The 15-week maternity portion of the system is designed to address pregnancy related matters.
    Hide reply (1)
    • JT over 3 years ago
      As a grandmother to twins I watch my daughter taking care of the twins and I worry that she will never be able to afford child care for the 2 of them. They also struggle with the month to month bills because of the added cost
  • Lana over 3 years ago
    I have a small business and I think giving parents more parental leave is a good idea. Simply I think babies need care directly from parents early in life and if we can increase access to that it is a good thing. Raising good, well adjusted members of society is very important as it makes up the fabric of our society. As a business person I think it would actually be easier to find someone for 18 months rather than 12 months. Also given 18 months I may even be able to use that time to grow my business and have a permanent position for that new employee. It also gives me access to someone for 18 months in case another employee leaves for whatever reason. I don't think this increases the burden on business owners much if at all and really it is just the cost of doing business.
  • rachelgessie over 3 years ago
    The maximum benefit is $537/week, I believe. Receiving approximately $350/week instead (that's the same benefit spread over 18 months, right?) would make life that much more difficult for many young families. I am due with our first child in January. The only reason I would need an 18 month leave is because it's next to impossible to find childcare for a child under the age of 18 months in my area. What are families supposed to do for childcare during this 6 months? I am not sure what we'll do.....and this worries me a lot. I'd much rather see affordable and accessible childcare options be supported/funded.....but will take an 18 month leave if it doesn't leave us poverty-stricken.
    Hide reply (1)
    • V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd. over 3 years ago
      I sounds as though you would not be using the system as an in-out-in-out way of gaining your 18 months. 18 consecutive months makes far more sense than the come and go system being suggested. Congratulations and good luck with your new baby!
  • ECE_BC over 3 years ago
    I greatly appreciate the opportunity to give feedback on such an important issue facing many Canadian families. I am an Early Childhood Educator working in British Columbia and echo many of the comments regarding creating affordable childcare spaces. With childcare being the second highest cost next to housing in our province, it creates a substantial problem for families who simply cannot afford the care. Furthermore, wages and training for Early Childhood Educators need to be increased. Many Early Childhood Educators do not make a living wage and therefore, paying for childcare when we have our own children is next to impossible. This problem is one that needs to be addressed when focusing on how our government can support families and value the work of early years professionals. I support the idea of increasing the leave period to 18 months but feel concerned about receiving a lower rate. In my field, wages are low and therefore at the rate that I am already eligible for I am apprehensive about how to make ends meet. I am certain I am not the only one in this situation. There has been a lot of research surrounding the importance of attachment in the first years of a child’s life. With parents being under so much stress about how to pay bills or find childcare I worry about how this is supporting healthy attachment. With my husband and I planning to have a family of our own soon I would love to spend as much time at home with my child as possible and am happy to hear that our government is considering this. That does not put aside my fear about financial stress as a low income family and the childcare situation once I begin working again.
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    • V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd. over 3 years ago
      I feel that Daycare workers should be more highly valued in our society. Why do many of them receive minimum wage when their jobs are so important? That is unacceptable! I think the government providing far better and MORE childcare and AT A REASONABLE RATE would be the biggest benefit to young families.
  • V.A. Hill Fine Strings Ltd. over 3 years ago
    This might be great for the parent(s) but an absolute nightmare for any small company. Chances are, the person going on maternity leave was an employee in a position required by the company. That means the absent parent would have to be replaced. Try finding a qualified individual willing to be hired on for an indefinite, undefined length of time. Should the parent wish to come back, then leave, then come back, then leave and then comeback, what is the employer supposed to do to keep the replacement on staff or available to be on staff "just in case" they are needed? In the event they are not needed, should there be compensation to them for being available? In my particular business, I could not do that. The fact that I am REQUIRED to hold the original position open is difficult enough. This second scenario would be impossible.
  • sherry over 3 years ago
    The decision to increase maternity leave to 18 months will only hurt small businesses especially one where licensing is a requirement. Hiring a new temporary employee does not make sense and it is difficult for others to carry on the load for the employee on leave for 12 mths as it stands now. If this is passed then at the same time it should be stated that employers have the right to offer another position to the employee that was on leave or not to even rehire based on the changes the business may have gone thorough in the 18 months the employee was away. The system needs to be a fair one for all involved.
  • lbelovich over 3 years ago
    It is difficult for a business to hire a temporary 12 month maternity leave employee (especially in a field that requires certification and training). Extending the Leave to 18 months does makes it difficult for an employer in a business that is continuously changing. To allow parents the option to come and go from their job intermittingly during an 18 month period of time would make that impossible! We would have to staff the maternity leave assuming they will be gone for 18 months. If they come and go during that period of time we can not afford to have 'two people' hired at the same time. We wouldn't let the temporary replacement go until we knew for sure they were no longer needed. As well, where would they sit? We would need an office, desk, computer, telephone, software licences.... it is cost prohibitive ! Please please consider how a business would function when making this decision. NOTE: Currently we DO NOT hire based on age or gender. We hire the best person for the position! Our plan is continue to do this.
  • rainbinder over 3 years ago
    As a small business owner, it is already difficult to have an employee off for one year, as much as I am happy for the family. Difficult to find replacements, knowing they will be gone in one year. 18 months would be a real hardship. Even worse is the option of the employee choosing to return for a while and then to continue the parental leave again. What do I tell the person I hired to replace them, if I was able to find one? I certainly cannot afford to pay 2 people. The replacement person would most likely leave, and I would again be faced with trying to replace the new parent for a much, much smaller length of time. Would YOU want that kind of temporary position??? Please remember that Canada's largest employer is the group of small businesses. We are the backbone of the economy. We cannot afford the logistical nightmare that this could cause.
  • chris1 over 3 years ago
    ..
  • rdsi over 3 years ago
    Parents should receive a standard 12 month benefit per child per birth, and over and above that, a 6 month extension per child per birth. I also think having an employee returning to work temporally is ridiculous. It would be a huge burden on the employer to train a replacement, have the original worker return, then have to find another replacement with little to no benefit to the parents.
  • kayleek over 3 years ago
    I think giving parent the option to extend their leave from 12 month to 18 is an excellent idea. The more time you can spend at home with your baby, the better. Most moms have to go back to work before their childs 1st birthday, its hard enough to leave your baby in the care of someone else to return to work- and its even harder to do before they're a year old. Second to that- I had a really hard time finding a daycare that would take children under 18 months. I ended up resigning from my job and staying home with my son until he was 18 months for that reason. I think returning to work temporally is ridiculous. It would be so hard on the employer to train a replacement, have the original worker return, then have to find another replacement. It would be a huge burden on the employer- with little to no benefit to the parents. They would have to find temporary childcare- then remove the child- then find childcare again. Just doesn't make sense.
  • TizianaBR over 3 years ago
    Consider increasing EI so that more people can actually afford to have a baby. My husband and I cannot afford to have a baby right now because of that.
  • Amy.Robertson over 3 years ago
    The change from 12-18 months is advantageous to a lot of families. Finding daycare for a 12 month old child is tough for a lot of families. I would also like to see adoptive parents be allocated the same amount of parental/maternity leave time as birth mothers/parents. Adoptive parents often struggle with various issues that do not exist with birth parents (e.g., attachment) so being able to spend an equal amount of time with a child as a birth parent would be extremely beneficial.
  • andreabordon over 3 years ago
    I support to extend the leave to 18 months based on that fact. There is a gap of 6 months were I must find someone to care for my newborn, and is really challenging. The last time I had to travel 20 kms. out of my way for this kind of service. Add mileage cost to daycare expenses for new
  • andreabordon over 3 years ago
    I support to extend the leave to 18 months based on that fact. There is a gap of 6 months were I must find someone to care for my newborn, and is really challenging. The last time I had to travel 40 kms. (20 kms. each way) out of my way for this kind of service. Add mileage cost to daycare expenses for new
  • Neil over 3 years ago
    I see substantial risks and minimal benefits to the proposed change, and it completely fails to address the very real, SEVERE problems with delivering maternity/parental leave through the EI system. Currently, it is virtually impossible to find childcare for children less than a year old. This is a result of the EI allowance & job-guaranteed leave covering that first year of life. By making 18 months of leave an option, it will quickly become a requirement due to the availability of childcare. Further, this kind of extension exacerbates the already major problems associated with existing leave policies: - contract workers without job guarantees can face unemployment at the end of their maternity benefits, with none of the regular EI benefits they ought to be entitled to to cover the time spent searching for a job. - similar problems are faced by people who return from leave and are then caught in downsizings before working enough hours qualify for regular benefits - many employers avoid hiring women of childbearing age in order to avoid dealing with the disruption caused by leaves, leaving women at substantial economic disadvantage in their early careers. Making the permitted leave period longer does nothing to solve these issues, and makes many of them worse by increasing the expected disruption of a leave, providing a lower income during the leave period (less able to handle unemployment at the end of it). If the government is truly interested in increasing the flexibility of maternity/parental leaves, the focus should be on the following reforms: - time spent receiving special EI benefits should not count towards limits for regular benefits. - Instead of locking in a self-employed individual FOREVER as soon as they receive any benefit, reform the self-employed option so that they can opt out of again after their cumulative premiums paid match or exceed the benefits received (+ interest). - This is particularly important because self-employed individuals are less likely to be able to take a full year off. Being able to receive benefits for 3 months makes it far easier to have a baby, but knowing that you'll then have to pay $1k+ per year, every year, for the rest of your working life makes it extraordinarily poor value for money. - Alternatively, special benefits coverage could be mandatory for self-employed individuals just as CPP & ordinary taxes are. This takes the calculation out of play, expands the risk pool, and makes the experience much closer to that of payroll employees. - Enact employment standards that better protect women from discrimination at the hiring stage. It's nearly impossible to prove discrimination against an individual at this stage, but firms hiring few women in aggregate need to held accountable. - Work with the provinces to ensure daycare spaces at reasonable prices are available regardless of when parents choose return to work. ***THIS ITEM HAS TO BE DEALT WITH BEFORE EXTENDING COVERAGE. If it is not, then extending coverages reduces parents' flexibility rather than enhancing it.***
  • Chris Mikulasik over 3 years ago
    It gives a family more time to find a daycare that they are comfortable. Currently there is no standard for daycares and some are safely run and others bend rules like seating more children then there are available seat belts in the vehicle. The extra time ensures child protection
  • jen86kim over 3 years ago
    Would love to see longer combined EI mat/pat benefits and leave period. I want to spend as much time as I can with my child.
  • SaraT over 3 years ago
    I agree that the benefit should be extended to 18 months to give people this option. I think it would be great to also have the option to use blocks of time, for example to return to work part-time and still have it be worthwhile. Currently you're only allowed to make very little each week without it deducting from your EI earnings. If there was a way to help new mothers return to work on a gradual basis (Part-time) I think this would be beneficial. An illustration of this could be working 3 days a week and receiving EI benefits on the other 2 days per week. Finding childcare in Vancouver has been no less than impossible. We've had temporary Nannies whom I've had to pay more than what I take home just to bridge us until our daycare opened. And, finding that daycare space was by pure luck as they hadn't advertised the new location when I was looking at a location near our house when my son was 5 months onld. He got into daycare when he was 16 months. A lot of daycares are restricted to accepting babies over 18 months so being forced to return after 12 months, or less if you began your mat leave before the baby arrived, poses a very big challenge in finding childcare. The extension of the 18 months would be beneficial in a lot of ways. It doesn't address the financial challenge it would pose to a family dropping that income for an even longer period but there are many other benefits to having that option for time off, especially when daycare isn't available and going back to work and paying a Nanny just don't make sense financially.
  • valerie1 over 3 years ago
    The advantages are more time with your child, to help with their development by having the primary parent at their side. Not so traumatic when primary parent has to go to work. More time to look for chlid care spaces which are not always readily available.
  • Karen over 3 years ago
    First of all thank you for the opportunity to provide some in put. I would like to note that no EI benefit program will help eliminate the need for a universal, affordable childcare program. In addition the scope of this consultation is far too narrow and needs to extensively look at the needs of the family as a whole. Access to benefits should be a priority; We can improve access by utilizing the Quebec model of $2000 of income in eligibility period. We can reduce required hours to 300; and a longer eligibility period something in the line of 5 years. Most women pay into the plan in the early years and because of schooling or other requirements their benefit level is compromised when they wish to have children because of qualifying hours based on one year . In addition low replacement rates make maternity and parental leaves unaffordable for some families. Rates should be increased to at least 70%. Families should not be living in poverty because they choose to have children. I strongly support the use it or loose it model. Its 2016 men raise children too and it should be seen as the norm, not the except that fathers in particular would want to take time to nurture young minds. A longer leave period of 18 months would definitely jeopardize the risk of most caregivers being able to return to their place of employment. There would have to be some guarantees around employers tried to terminate or reclassify positions which would result in the caregiver being out of work. The longer the leave the more vulnerable one would be and as a woman I would be extremely vulnerable. Furthermore, for those of us in part time work, this would be very difficult beyond a to maintain our positions. In addition, a longer leave makes it more difficult if you want to have a second child.
  • JulieRBH over 3 years ago
    I am a parent of twins, and feel that multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives. Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave time for multiple-birth families means more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, improving the critical bonding with their children and responding to each child’s unique needs. Many multiple-birth infants require extra medical attention including but not limited to extended hospital stays after birth, and extensive long term health needs. Increasing EI parental benefits and extending parental leave would allow families to focus on these short and long term health care needs of their infants and improve outcomes for the whole family. In my situation, my twin son was hospitalized for four months after birth, and my maternity leave with him did not really start until he came home. That left he and I only eight months together.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      That must have been really tough to have one infant at home and the other in the hospital. Thanks for sharing your story.
      Hide reply (1)
      • JulieRBH over 3 years ago
        Thank you. The emotional and financial stress was quite high to travel back and forth each day for those four months. The hospital was 45 minutes away and the Ronald McDonald House there was under construction.
  • epederson85 over 3 years ago
    There are many aspects of this decision that need to be considered. As a young family, I would want to have more autonomy making the decision on what is best for my family. Seeing friends and family make tough decisions about when to be off of work, when to go back to work and how to manage childcare, I am appreciative of the opportunity to provide my input. Income has a direct relationship to health and wellbeing of an individual and their family. Being able to decide who takes benefits when could be a game-changer for many families, especially being able to take off shorter blocks of time over a longer period of time. This would also allow for both parents to take time that they need for employment stability, increase income and keep in touch with their workplace, if they feel those choices are in the best interest of their family and their circumstance. I have seen many individuals struggle to find childcare for their young children, especially around the 12 to 18 month age. Having the ability to extend a parental leave to this timeframe, when licensed childcare providers can take a child into their care, would be beneficial. For pregnant women who have a risk posed to them or their baby during their pregnancy, they should be allowed to access their benefits early, if they choose to do so. Many workplaces have accommodations for their expectant mothers, but this is just another choice for a mother to access.
  • Celiajutras over 3 years ago
    As parents of two twin infant girls, we believe we have unique concerns that are not currently addressed by neither the current regime nor the proposed legislative changes to same. My husband Blake Pennycook and I are not fairly supported under the current EI system. The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy as opposed to the number of children born shortchanges us in the most challenging and financially vulnerable time in our lives. When dealing with parents of twins, this policy does not match with the purpose of the program which is to provide time away from work and the financial resources to enable parents to spend time with their newborn. As parents of multiples, each child and every parent matters and parental benefits should be, at the very least, 35 weeks parental leave for each child, not each pregnancy. Such policy change would have prevent us from having to choose between going into crippling debt or providing the necessary care for our daughters. In a sluggish economy, my husband and I had no choice but to live and work in Thunder Bay, away from our families. This is not unlike many young families that must relocate away from families to find gainful employment. This personal sacrifice is beneficial to the public as we both duly pay a significant amount of income taxes and contribute to the Employment Insurance program annually. We both always assumed the number of EI benefits weeks were suitable if we ever required to apply for the benefit, that is, until we learned I was pregnant with twins. Our daughters are mono-amniotic twins, born prematurely at 33 weeks on June 21, 2016 after a very high risk pregnancy. We incurred significant costs leading to their birth as I had to go inpatient at the hospital for the last month of the pregnancy and visit the hospital 5 days a week for the month prior to going inpatient. Twin or multiple pregnancies commonly end in a premature birth. While our pregnancy was more high risk than most, it is not uncommon to hear that twins are born at least three weeks prior to the due date. As you can imagine, infant twins are very challenging and in our view, each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time. Once the girls came home to us after a long, mentally taxing month at the neo-natal intensive care unit (“NICU”), it became clear as their mother that I was unable to meet all their needs. Since our families have obligations of their own and do not reside in Thunder Bay, we had to hire outside help, at a significant cost to us in light of my reduced income. The task of taking care of two children on my own also took a serious emotional toll that was damaging both to our relationship and my own health. I believe that, had we been entitled to a further 35 weeks of parental leave, some stress would have been immediately alleviated and my husband would have had the opportunity to stay home with us without significant financial worry. We are now considering having my husband go on unpaid parental leave in January 2017 to ensure all the emotional and physical needs of our two girls are met. This represents an incredible financial sacrifice for us; we will be spending our entire life savings and going into debt to take care of the girls. This is money we had planned to allocate for emergencies, childcare, and hopefully use the rest as a down payment for a new home, a home suitable to raise two children. 35 parental leave weeks per child would permit parents like us to sleep more soundly, knowing that we could more easily meet the financial, physical, medical, and emotional demands two children born at the same time require. EI alone cannot meet our needs, but every little bit would have helped. We are also not advocating for anything more than what a family receives in parental benefits for two consecutive births of two children. A combined 70 weeks of parental leave to take care of our twins would have a profound beneficial effect on our mental and financial health. If we must constrain ourselves to the proposed legislative changes, please know that we are supportive of the proposed legislative change of an extended parental leave of 18 months, despite how little monies this would represent for our already strained family budget. Do keep in mind however that for your constituents, this may not be suitable where their employer refuses to accommodate a longer leave than one year. My employer has refused, thus far, to accommodate a request for leave for a period greater than a year to address our impending childcare availability and costs concerns. Unless the province of Ontario modifies the Employment Standards Act, a more flexible, longer leave of absence with benefits up to 18 months remains a pipedream for those employed with less-than-flexible employers. Upon review of the public discussion found on the online consultation web site, it has become clear that we are not alone in our demand for 35 weeks parental leave per child, not per pregnancy. We join our voices with many Canadians families of multiples that are demanding legislative change in the most vulnerable and challenging time in their We also agree with the position on EI reform of Multiples Birth Canada (http://multiplebirthscanada.org), namely: -Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave for multiple-birth families means more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, improving the critical bonding with their children and responding to each child’s unique needs; -Extended parental leave would better equip the primary caregiver to deal with the emotional and physical stress of caring for more than one baby at a time, especially if there is more than one parent at home to help share the responsibilities; -Many multiple-birth infants require extra medical attention including but not limited to extended hospital stays after birth, and extensive long term health needs. Increasing EI parental benefits and extending parental leave would allow families to focus on these short and long term health care needs of their infants and improve outcomes for the whole family; -Increasing the number of weeks of fully funded parental benefits and the weekly benefit rate would reduce the financial strain of having one or both parents on reduced incomes, and the associated stress; -The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy short changes parents of multiples. Every child and every parent matters.
  • seeshell1978 over 3 years ago
    I like the idea of the 18 months being shared between the parents how they see fit - this way there could be some flexibility with work projects and could also allow parents to be off together for a time period.
  • brookecote over 3 years ago
    The longer combined EI maternity/parental benefit would allow for a stronger alignment between paid leave and the 18 month age minimum that most daycare centers begin accepting children for care. It would also allow more time with your children when they are at such a young, vulnerable age. More than one person should be able to use this longer leave period eg) mom could take the first 12 months then dad could take the subsequent 6 months off to bond and spend time with the baby when mom returns to work. Taking EI parental in smaller blocks could create problems in terms of your employer agreeing to accommodate. Operationally, it could be difficult for them rationalize/ approve leaving the workforce, coming back for a bit, then leaving again. From a mental perspective I wouldn’t want to worry about going back to work until I absolutely had to because transitioning in and out of the labour force and away from your family is difficult and emotional. I see how this option could potentially benefit parents of sick children, but in those types of situations parents should be able to stack EI maternity/parental followed by the EI caregiving benefit to give them extra time off. A better approach to taking blocks of time would be allowing the concurrent use of parental leave by both parents to care for a baby. Eg. 18 months total leave, mom takes 12 months off following the birth of the baby, and dad also takes the last 6 months at the same time as mom - or whatever combination of months a family would need or like depending on their unique situation.
  • Debora1 over 3 years ago
    Access to benefits should be the first priority. There are several options to improve access, including: a. Quebec model of $2,000 of income in eligibility period; b. Reduce hours required to 300 (pre-1990s reform levels); and c. A longer eligibility period – look back five years instead of one year. This consultation process is an attempt to address the childcare crisis – but it doesn’t actually help most parents. No EI benefit will change the need for a comprehensive, public, universal, affordable childcare program. Low replacement rates make maternity and parental leaves unaffordable for some families. We should establish a minimum level for special benefits that is not below minimum wage, and increase the replacement rate for maternity and “paternity” (second parent) leaves to 70%. We support the introduction of “use-it or lose-it” leave for the second parent (as per the Quebec model). We think this is important for normalizing fathers caring for their children, and for a fairer distribution of unpaid care work in the home. The disadvantage of the longer leaves is that it increases the risk of caretakers not being able to return to their previous employment – enforcement of this is already low. Longer leaves exacerbate pay equity issues. Longer leaves make it harder to qualify for the next child
  • adleblan over 3 years ago
    As an expectant mother of twins, I feel that increased benefits and extended leave should be available for parents with multiples. The current system is designed for single births and does not treat multiples fairly. Having more than one baby at once is associated with: increased risks (decreased working hours in later pregnancy, bed rest, preterm labor, NICU stays, extended hospital stays, long term health risks, etc); increased financial costs to feed, care and provide for more than one baby; and increased general demands/stress of caring for 2 newborns/infants. Increased benefits would help to supplement these extra costs and extended leave would allow families to have more time at home with their babies once home from the hospital. Each child needs and deserves individualized care and the opportunity to bond with parents and other family members. Also, trusted childcare if hard enough to come by for one child at 12 months, let alone to find 2 spots available. Extending leave would also alleviate this challenge as many daycare centers will only take children beginning at 18 months.
  • Carrie over 3 years ago
    Adoption leaves should be treated the same way as maternity/parental leave and be eligible for the same length of benefit. While newly adoptive parents are not recovering from a physical delivery, our families have the increased stress of dealing with trauma and may be integrating a child older than newborn who comes with a particular history and unique needs. Leaves for full-time workers should also include an option to return to work part-time with partial EI benefits to allow a more seamless return to work/balance of family life. Many families struggle significantly with the abrupt transition to full-time employment and child care.
  • byronallin over 3 years ago
    Purely from a child care perspective, lengthening the availability of the benefit to 18 months would help to reduce some of the stress of finding child care spaces. More spaces open up as of 18 months, so extending parental leave to 18 months would align the benefit with greater market availability.
  • laura over 3 years ago
    We have 4 amazing children, all single births. Being home to support the new addition and whole family is most important to me. Financially providing more funds for more time off would be better. The option for more time off is an excellent first step.
  • colin5440 over 3 years ago
    The ability to break it up would be helpful. I know a mom who's son needed cancer treatment from roughly 12-15 mos. of age. Shifting a portion of her leave would have allowed a parent to stay home during this difficult time.
  • lblack-meddings over 3 years ago
    Additionally, I don't like your poll options. There should be one that encourages an increase to the benefit amount. Because that is one key factor in people deciding if they can even afford to take a leave.
  • lblack-meddings over 3 years ago
    The advantage of the longer period of leave is the additional time to spend with the children. Childcare costs for infants in Ontario is very high and lessens as the child is older - currently the rates usually drop at 18 months. But the benefits cannot be decreased even if lengthening the time. The benefits now barely pay rent/mortgages and put food on the table. The benefits need to increase to at least 70% of a parent's actual salary - with no maximum amount. The maximum amount meant that for me my EI benefits were less than 1/2 my monthly take home salary - but my costs did not go down on leave, especially having twins. I would encourage a longer benefit period, use it or lose it for the second parent with an increased benefit to 70% of one's actual salary.
  • christian_martin over 3 years ago
    I had twins a few years ago. It was unexpected and we needed to adapt in a big way. Like many multiple type pregnancies my wife's experience was very difficult with bed rest, extended hospitalization and premature births. My wife needed to take her year of leave and benefits, especially with two children for which to care. Mothers usually take the whole year with one child. However, she needed help and with a lack of other options I needed to take a break from work too. Leaving her alone would have been cruel. There was no support available for me and I was not eligible for EI due to a technicality. The EI policy generally states that a parent can take leave and get benefits to care for a newborn child. I paid my premiums and was otherwise eligible for EI, yet there is a clause that states that the benefits are based on pregnancy. One pregnancy, one benefit, regardless of what come of it. Triplets? Too bad. Well if I had had one child I would have taken a 2-3 week vacation leave and went back to work. Two years later we would have repeated the experience and got two years of benefits to care for two children in total. I needed to take many weeks off without pay. It made a big hole in our finances. Those were difficult times involving around the clock care for the babies. For many parents of multiples this is not just about giving a couple of weeks of benefits to fathers (second parent) or allowing more flexibility over 18 months. It is about recognizing that all children and all parents are equal. I cared for a newborn child just like any other parent and it was certainly no vacation. I deserved the same treatment as a typical parent that gets benefits to do just that. I feel for new parents of multiples and this needs to be fixed.
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    • matthewskristaj over 3 years ago
      I am also a mother to twins. They are now 6. I took the full year, but had the luxury of family who supported us a great deal. I am fighting for EI to change so that a second parent can stay home and receive EI benefits that don't take away from the first parent's benefits. My husband took some vacation time to help me (twins born in the winter) and then in the summer when I didn't need the help as much and wanted him home so we could enjoy some family time he didn't have the vacation left. And extending it to 18 months sounds great! I went back after the year and was fortunate to find a home daycare provider that was affordable for 2 kids. I don't even want to think about what it would have cost for 2 full time children under 18 months. I would guess that it would have been 150% of my paycheque.
      Hide reply (1)
      • christian_martin over 3 years ago
        In Québec the second parent has a few weeks of benefits and it does not take anything away from the first. While this would be a good thing, it is not nearly as helpful to parents of multiples as providing 35 weeks of full benefits per child. There would still be a lot more to be shared between both parents as they see fit. It would be unfortunate for the government to make 5 weeks available to all second parents and think that the multiples problem is solved. The problem runs deeper than that.
  • cmcleod2 over 3 years ago
    Regardless of what changes are made, they should result in equal leave time for adoptive and non-adoptive parents. There really is no good rationale for giving less leave to adoptive parents. While no female adoptive parent has to recover from pregnancy, the attachment period for adoptive parents can be long and difficult (as I know from personal experience). The government really needs to treat adoptive and non-adoptive parents equally.
  • amarinelli over 3 years ago
    Maternity leave and Parental leave need to be combined into one. Having the two systems combined into one purports sexist stereotypes that a woman must stay home with her child. If parental leave in general was extended to 18 months and parents were given the option to take it how they see fit, more fathers would likely begin to stay home. This would especially be true in families where the woman is the primary earner. As a father the time is limited because they do not benefit from the designated maternity leave. I believe this is an outdated concept. Give adult parents the right to decide how they choose to split up parenting duties in the family and do away with the gender-based policies because it's 2016!
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    • matthewskristaj over 3 years ago
      But you need to be careful when it comes to surrogates. I had the pleasure of being pregnant and delivering in April this year as a surrogate. The surrogate is entitled to 15 weeks and the parents of the baby I delivered are entitled to the remaining 35 weeks. There needs to be a provision in there protecting surrogates. There are very few women willing to be a surrogate as it is. Taking away our protected leave will make it even more difficult for couples in need of a surrogate. I enjoyed my 15 weeks off and it was one of the many reasons I did it. My body needed almost half that time just to recover from the birth.
      Hide reply (1)
      • amarinelli over 3 years ago
        Excellent point I had not considered. I would tend to agree that surrogates also do need protection; however, as you say, your body needed half of that time to recover. So perhaps maternal leave is shortened to still give women that protection. Perhaps 8 weeks is sufficient. Then the remaining weeks can be given to the parents to split up as they see fit.
  • tara over 3 years ago
    The benefits of a longer combined EI maternity/paternity are many, such as: - bridging the gap in current licensed daycare providers often only accepting children from 18mths and up - greater opportunity to share the leave with both parents - greater amount of time for bonding with parents and improved development Disadvantages of this Option include: - only families who can afford to take the pay cut for amount of time are able to benefit from the program - so really the middle class and even that pushing it as this cohort is often stretched financially as they enter the housing market, retirement savings, and still paying back student loans while not quite at their peak in terms of salary earnings. Advantages/Disadvantages of Option 2 (smaller blocks of time) are the following: - gives an option for those who have special child care arrangements that are time restricted (e.g. parent who vacations in florida six months a year) - but again I only see this as an advantage and an true option for those who can afford it already who have flexible jobs with flexible employers. It is difficult to fill a position for only 6 months at a time ....but it could work for some work places). - i still see this as only benefiting the upper middle class - I fail to understand why the options have to be restricted to one or the other, to me it doesn't seem like too much effort to have everything available (i.e. i ultimately have a choice which one suits my needs at the time of birth/adoption/etc. as to whether i want to take 18 months myself, split that with my partner and/or do 18 months in blocks of time. )
  • Averyana over 3 years ago
    Extending parental leave up to 18 months would be beneficial to both parents and babies. I feel very bad for having to leave my 12 months old in the care of another person, as I think this is too young for babies to be separated with their mothers or fathers. Even 18 months is too early, but I'll take it over 12 months. Daycare is a horrible pain. It's too expensive and not available most of the times, forcing parents to look for other, sometimes not so great, options. Leaving our babies for the care of others so young, the cost of that care, difficulties finding the care - it all sums up in anxiety, stress and fear for already stressed parents. Having kids should not be as stressful as it now is in Canada.
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    • Myliece over 3 years ago
      I completely agree!
  • daniela over 3 years ago
    I would go for 18 months but with full benefits. There is already financial strain being on EI with a small baby; spreading that amount over 18 months will not help financially. Other less developed countries are able to offer 2 full years with benefits at 80% of the beneficiary's salary, so I do not believe that this is not possible in Canada. I think it's time to support families to raise future generations and this support should not stop just at the maternity/parental EI benefits, although it would be a good start. I am a new mother of triplets, with one baby having health issues and needing a dedicated person for her care. I would have loved an extended EI period but I need the full benefits, as it is already hard as it is. I don't know if I will be able to return to work due to her health concerns and even if I do return to work, whatever I will earn will go fully to pay for daycare or a nanny.
  • kimforeman over 3 years ago
    I like the idea of being able to take less benefit over a period of 18 months. However, I do understand that that option is something that would most likely only be employed by higher income earners. In my own personal situation, our son was born prematurely and we spent months in the hospital before he arrived home, in the months following his arrival home, we were in and out of hospital and attending multiple appointments weekly. It would have been beneficial to have an opportunity to extend the benefit so that I could have been home longer to prepare his immune system to go out daycare and to have him reach an age where he had caught up with certain milestones and was more like his peers.
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    • daniela over 3 years ago
      did anyone advise you that you could take the critically ill child EI benefit while your baby was in NICU? It is an option that they do not like to advertise much. the first social worker I talked with while I was still in hospital did not mention it.
  • Kbaudson over 3 years ago
    Babies are not ready to be separated from their parents at 12 months. They do not yet understand that the parent will return and they still require the security of a parent's constant care. In addition,Health Canada and the World health organization advise breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond as being optimal for a child's health and development, but many mothers stop breastfeeding when they return to work. Extending leave to 18 months or ideally 24 months would help support mothers follow this recommendation and in the long run reduce overall healthcare costs due to the proven medical advantages to both mother and child.
  • matthewskristaj over 3 years ago
    Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives.” Points to consider in your comments could include: • Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave time for multiple-birth families means more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, improving the critical bonding with their children and responding to each child’s unique needs; • Extended parental leave would better equip the primary caregiver to deal with the emotional and physical stress of caring for more than one baby at a time, especially if there is more than one parent at home to help share the responsibilities; • Many multiple-birth infants require extra medical attention including but not limited to extended hospital stays after birth, and extensive long term health needs. Increasing EI parental benefits and extending parental leave would allow families to focus on these short and long term health care needs of their infants and improve outcomes for the whole family. • Increasing the number of weeks of fully funded parental benefits and the weekly benefit rate would reduce the financial strain of having one or both parents on reduced incomes, and the associated stress; • The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy short changes parents of multiples. The basis is poorly matched with the purpose of the program which is to provide time away from work and financial resources to enable parents to spend time with their newborn child. Every child and every parent matters. The 15-week maternity portion of the system is designed to address pregnancy related matters.
  • Multiple Births Canada over 3 years ago
    Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives. • Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave for multiple-birth families means more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, improving the critical bonding with their children and responding to each child’s unique needs; • Extended parental leave would better equip the primary caregiver to deal with the emotional and physical stress of caring for more than one baby at a time, especially if there is more than one parent at home to help share the responsibilities; • Many multiple-birth infants require extra medical attention including but not limited to extended hospital stays after birth, and extensive long term health needs. Increasing EI parental benefits and extending parental leave would allow families to focus on these short and long term health care needs of their infants and improve outcomes for the whole family. * Increasing the number of weeks of fully funded parental benefits and the weekly benefit rate would reduce the financial strain of having one or both parents on reduced incomes, and the associated stress. • The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy short changes parents of multiples. The basis is poorly matched with the purpose of the program which is to provide time away from work and financial resources to enable parents to spend time with their newborn child. Every child and every parent matters. The 15-week maternity portion of the system is designed to address pregnancy related matters. Multiple Births Canada has worked for over 35 years to improve the quality of life for multiples and their families across Canada. We welcome this opportunity to advocate for our families, and to comment on the current state of EI parental benefits.
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    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      Why not make every child worth 35 weeks of full benefits? A parent of twins could be fully funded for approximately 85 weeks, and a parent of triplets for roughly 120 (or shared with the second parent). Being home longer with more children under a parent's care is just common sense. It works this way for single born children. Every single born child is currently worth 35 weeks of parental leave and benefits on top of a 15 week maternity portion that would not be available more than once to parents of multiples, even though much of it is used to take care of the child, and people take that for granted. If you have had three kids since 2000 and are a working parent that pays into EI, you most likely got 3 years of benefits (150 weeks). Parents of multiples are fighting just to get that same 35 weeks per child amount from the system, not some privileged special treatment. If you disagree, I invite you to take care of baby twins or triplets alone for a few days. I guarantee that it will make you come around.
    • Lisathomas over 3 years ago
      As a mom of 2 sets of twins in 2.5 yrs, a change in the EI maternity/paternity benefits would have made a world of difference in our family. My husband and i would have benefited greatly as would hsve our children if we both could have been off on leave for the first year of each set of twins. We dont have the luxury of family nor the ability to pay for hired help. What we went thru in those first years we difficult and would take up more space than this discussion has. Our twins are now 5 yrs and 2 yrs old.
  • Lindsey McKay over 3 years ago
    Our input to the consultation, based on our research on parental leave, was published today (Friday, October 21) in the Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/its-about-time-we-give-parental-leave-a-much-needed-facelift-397871111.html "It's about time we give parental leave a much-needed facelift: The rest of Canada should follow Quebec's leave eligibility example" By: Lindsey McKay and Andrea Doucet If children truly matter, and if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to follow through on his claims to be a feminist, we know he will do the right thing. Namely, lower eligibility criteria for maternity- and parental-leave benefits to match Quebec at 186 hours. Children need parents with income security. The federal government’s proposed policy changes will not provide this basic security. It will have zero benefit for more than one-third of Canadian children. Making maternity leave available earlier in pregnancy is a good step. It makes the system fairer to women and is in the best interests of the child. This kind of thinking needs to extend to eligibility criteria, with 600 hours in the previous 52 weeks standing as the major barrier to access. An average of 25 per cent of mothers paid into employment insurance (EI) during pregnancy but didn’t have enough hours. Other mothers pay into EI for the rest of their lives but didn’t make the cut when it mattered. We know from our research — published with Sophie Mathieu in the September issue of the Journal of Industrial Relations — comparing EI to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, that Quebec’s coverage rates are far better. Of all mothers off-reserve, 64 per cent receive benefits under EI across nine provinces, compared to 89 per cent in Quebec. This means under EI, 36 per cent of mothers don’t qualify, compared with only 11 per cent in Quebec. Mothers in lower-income families are most excluded, with 56 per cent left out under EI, compared with 15 per cent in Quebec. The socio-economic difference is stark under EI with 30 per cent more mothers in higher-earning families receiving benefits compared to lower-earning families. In Quebec, this difference is only 10 per cent. Quebec improved take-up among families earning less than $30,000/year by 21 percentage points over six years, from 64 per cent in 2007 to 85 per cent in 2013. The implication is that when mothers are excluded, newborn infants are excluded. Quebec solved this problem by lowering eligibility criteria, including self-employed workers and changing the funding model. The federal government should follow suit. If this government cannot stand up to business pressure to reduce EI premiums for the sake of Canadian children, then parcel out special benefits and supplement these benefits through investment income (like Quebec) or general revenue (like most countries). The current eligibility criteria for maternity and/or parental leave are indefensible. At present, a parent needs 600 hours in the previous 52 weeks. This means 17 weeks or four months and a week of full-time work. Compare this to $2,000, which is 186 hours at minimum wage ($10.75) required in Quebec, and 480 hours required in some regions for regular EI. Looking further abroad we know of at least five countries (Finland, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Norway) where zero hours of paid work are required and where leave benefits are considered a universal right. Trudeau lowered eligibility for EI benefits this year for new entrants and re-entrants to the workforce, from 910 to 480-700 hours. Lowering eligibility is proposed for the compassionate care benefit and the parents of critically ill children benefit. There is ample international evidence and strong social equity rationales for lowering eligibility criteria for maternity and parental benefits: child development; reductions in child poverty; income security at birth/adoption; and best practice internationally, meeting International Labour Organization standards. The World Health Organization recommendation of six months of exclusive breastfeeding is undermined by lack of access to leave. Finally, children benefit in the long run but lose out at birth when born while parents earn diplomas and degrees. Women’s fertile years overlap directly with years in post-secondary education. Public consultations launched Oct. 6 are inadequate and will not achieve "real change." The consultation discussion paper offers no evidence for the policy changes proposed. Extending duration or allowing non-contiguous periods simply repeat history. In 2001, then-prime minister Jean Chrétien did the same thing: extending duration, improving benefits for eligible parents, while ignoring the significant proportion of parents, and therefore children, excluded. In both instances, Liberal governments avoid fixing — and through this, worsen — a child-care-spaces problem by offering parental leave instead. What is currently on the table for revising parental leave is a poorly crafted policy for children, for women, for indigenous peoples, for lower-earning working families, for students, single parents and the self-employed. It is out of step with international best practices and will only benefit those who do not need help: higher earners in standard employment and employers, and it will help men’s careers. It will exacerbate the rich-poor gap in parental leave, as well as the gender wage gap. We will all be paying for it. Parents’ ability to balance work and their caregiving responsibilities will improve when they have access to leave benefits. Canadians deserve the now decade-old Quebec model and more. Exclusion is the most egregious failing of the system; lowering eligibility criteria is the first and most important step to improving it. The federal government, led by our feminist prime minister, from Quebec, can walk the talk by lowering eligibility criteria to 186 hours. Channel benefits to all children and children who need it the most. We call on Canadians to join us in calling for lowering eligibility criteria as the No. 1 priority and a first step in the right direction. All Canadian children have an equal right to be cared for, especially as newborn infants. Lindsey McKay and Andrea Doucet, from Brock University, are Canadian members of the International Network on Leave Policies and Research.
  • jennaw over 3 years ago
    In Manitoba, some child care providers only take children over the age of 18 months. This contributes to the difficulty in finding childcare when we head back to work when our kids are 12 months. Extending the benefits period to 18 months would be very helpful in this respect. The cost of care is higher for children under age 2 so it would reduce the period for which we pay higher costs for childcare. It's very difficult emotionally to leave a child at daycare when they are 12 months as they aren't very verbal yet. I think it would be easier at 18 months. I would have taken advantage of this opportunity if it was available to me. The disadvantage of extending the period to 18 months is for employees who have to take up the slack when employers do not hire someone to fill the position temporarily. Surprisingly, even my provincial government employer does not always fill positions during maternity/parental leaves. Hopefully, extending the leave to 18 months would prod employers into filling some of these positions that they currently leave vacant.
  • DRGROULX over 3 years ago
    I think extending the benefit period without increasing the amount received over that period would benefit a select group of upper income earners. There are certainly advantages of being able to spend additional time with your child at home such as social and emotional bonding. Breastfeeding can also be sustained with more ease. The smaller blocks of time would be more advantageous for those who need to return to work sooner (seasonal workers etc.). Why not leave the option open to the parents if there are no financial increases payed out? Is it too logistically challenging to manage? What I found most frustrating as a father was I had to get "permission" to use up time as part of a parental leave from the mother. How does this type of policy facilitate fathers being more involved and bonding with the child early in their lives.
    Hide reply (1)
    • jennaw over 3 years ago
      That is a very good point about seasonal workers! I hadn't thought of that. It would be a great benefit for them to be able to take the smaller blocks of time.
  • Guy Bellavance over 3 years ago
    I believe everyone who posted a comment has touched every positive and negative facet of this topic. I'd like to point out that one group of people has been left out of this topic, employees who are left behind to manage the extra work left behind by the parent on extended leave. Now, the government survives because it manages over $300 billion dollars per year. The government pays the parent on leave, and most likely also pays a backup temporary employee on contract, costing the public 150% of the actual salary of the employee (80% to the on-leave parent, plus the salary of the contract employee). Imagine a small company, with 10 employees, having a few on maternity/paternity leave, having to pay for these benefits and having to employ other people for the 12/18 months that the parent is away. No small enterprise could survive. How do you figure this out?
    Hide reply (1)
    • jennaw over 3 years ago
      I suspect most smaller businesses don't provide benefits or top ups for staff who are on maternity/parental leave. I got a salary top up and my benefits covered for the first 16 weeks of leave as a provincial government employee. I had to pay to keep my other benefits after this time (life insurance, health care coverage).
  • James Yablonski over 3 years ago
    There should be a summer leave benefit for families were both parents are working. This would allow one parent to take a leave of absence every July and August to care for school age children while they are off from school. When the children go back to school the parent at home can go back to work.
    Hide reply (1)
    • jennaw over 3 years ago
      It's a lovely idea but this would be very difficult for employers to manage.
  • Traveldom over 3 years ago
    Two main advantages: 1. Child care costs are significantly higher in the 12-18 month bracket than they are in the 19-24 month bracket at a lot of facilities. This might allow more families to access child care. 2. This would provide an excellent opportunity for a partner to have time at home with the child and still be able to breastfeed for the first year. The added term of the leave would allow the partner who gave birth to provide the needed care for the child in the first 6 months, enjoy the much more interactive phase in the next 6 months and still have 6 months left for the other partner to enjoy time with the child.
  • sfreitag over 3 years ago
    Extending parental leave to 18-months would benefit families in the following ways: -it would allow more time for fathers to be off of work and home with their child(ren) at n age/stage when the child(ten) is/are less dependent on the mother, particularly breastfed babies - it would allow families to have more flexibility with when/if both parents stay home - it would lessen the costs of childcare for families as both parents return to work as care for 12- month olds is more expensive than 18-month old care - it would provide an opportunity for parents to investigate if they can afford to have one parent stay home - it would allow for a parent to stay home with a child during more of the critical neurological and developmental period of early childhood
  • Fayrell Wheeler over 3 years ago
    I would love to see the program extended to 18 months. I agree with a lot of other comments and think it's very important that we provide options for our families. People should have the option of applying for 12 months at The current rate or 18 months at a lower income. Ideally I would fully support my tax dollars/a tax increase going towards a more EI so parents can go on leave and be fully funded for the full 18 months.
  • luluc over 3 years ago
    I agree with what other previous posters have mentioned. Daycare is almost impossible to find for a 12 month old. Not only that, but it is heartbreaking to think about having to leave a little baby with someone else, and then going to work to pretty much pay for daycare. 18 months would be an excellent option. I voted for the Liberals because of this promise.
  • Bkkkak over 3 years ago
    Allowing to spread mat leave benefits over 18 months would be extremely beneficial for those people who would love to spend longer at home with their children but aren't able to afford being a stay at home parent for years, or don't want to give upon their careers. The extra 6 months in my opinion would make all the difference. It wouldn't cost any more for taxpayers and if employers allow 18 months off that's up to them. This would be a great option for parents and I only wish it came into effect before my last child so I could have benefitted from it.
  • kathy.holt over 3 years ago
    I feel that EI maternity/paternal benefits should stay as is. I feel it is more important to extend sick benefits. There are thousands of people that have no benefits through their work. They get sick and can only collect 15 weeks of benefits. If they apply for E.I. sick benefits and CPP disability at the same time they collect maximum of 15 weeks sick benefits through E.I and then they have no monies until their CPP Disability processes , if they are approved. It takes approximately 26 weeks for CPP disability to be processed. If a person is terminally ill they can only collect 15 weeks but the person taking care of them can collect 35 weeks. In my opinion this is not right.
  • Patrick over 3 years ago
    12 months or 18 months doesn't matter it's all a fantasy anyways. Sure some people making a great income can live on EI for parental leave but for those of us that can't afford to live off of nothing this whole program is just a dream and not reality. I was needed at home with my wife and kids but finances would not allow it. Life is hard enough without slashing your income and waiting 2 weeks to get it. If I could change this program I would get rid of the 2 week waiting period and simplify the whole process for the employer and employee that is looking to take parental leave. 2 weeks of help would have saved my wife from postpartum depression and other complications but I couldn't be there for her because the bills don't stop. She is a stay at home mom and I am the only one bringing in an income. In our situation this program did not help one bit.
  • supabuf over 3 years ago
    I think people are missing the big picture. The amount you pay into EI each year caps off at approximately $950. When you collect EI at the max rate of $537, you are collecting within 2 weeks of pay what you paid into the system in one year. Therefore when you take mat leave for a year and get paid for 50 weeks, you are basically collecting what you would have contributed for 25 years. If you think about this, then you can see how there is no way EI can afford to pay you for 18 months. Extending the leave for 18 months is more about job security. If you can afford it great, and if not, then please don't complain that you paid into the system and are not going anything out it because if you look at the numbers you are. I believe EI should have both options (12 months and 18 months) available. I personally took an extra 6 months off unpaid from my work after 2 of my kids. I was lucky that my employer held my job but not everybody is lucky like me.
  • dcg1234 over 3 years ago
    In response to only the families who criticize this policy would only benefit the wealthy, 2016 has been a year that has propped up the working classes' family benefits and bottom line (including a tax cut equalling my family's tax hike), and injected funds into cost-savings and enhanced programs for the working classes like I have never seen before. Surely there's room to give a low-cost, high-satisfaction policy to all people? One that could also benefit burnt-out and just-as-broke young executive families as well? Perhaps in contrast, for the people who can't afford to be off for the full year (for professional, personal or other reasons), they can apply to receive a higher level of EI benefit for a shorter period of time? Thus ensuring their quality of life wouldn't be so adversely affected while they are able to be on parental leave. Parental benefits for ALL Canadians! That would be a GREAT moment in history.
  • green_elizabeth over 3 years ago
    I think it's amazing the diversity of experiences that parents have when taking leave. Flexibility for longer leaves may work really well for some familes, but for other familes like my own, I had to return to work part time because we couldn't pay the bills on the EI income. This resulted in reduced EI, and I struggled with post partum depression because of the stress of balancing a part time job that was only bringing in an addition $100/month after my reduced benefits, all of which was paying for childcare so I could work. But by the time it became clear that it wouldn't work out in my favour, it was too late. The system disadvantages middle and low income parents, and the proposed changes are no different. This change will primarily benefit high income families. What would have been better for my family would be the opportunity to take a higher amount of benefits for less time. This would have reduced stress, improved our family's overall health, and meant that maybe I would have gone back to work at 10 months, but we wouldn't have had the financial stress of debt accrued because of our reduced income.
  • ocean006 over 3 years ago
    I believe it is a benefit for the child for the parent to have the option of staying home with their newborn a little longer. Given that it is financially feasible. One area of improvement that should be changed immediately when it comes to maternity/parental/sickness due to pregnancy is the 52 week "shelf life rule" along with advising mothers-to-be that if you start the process to collect EI and do not receive, it will be considered as if you had. I was laid off two weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my third child - October 30, 2015. It was a lot to take in all at once. I didn't know if I would be able to find another job right away. I was a real estate paralegal, and in Alberta, that was foreseen declining industry, so I started the process for EI - November 16, 2015. Luckily though, after the million resumes i submitted, I got a job with the same amount of income. I worked their until February 3, 2016 when my doctor ordered bed rest due to pregnancy complications. Basically, I was on sick leave until I was eligible for maternity, and then after my son arrived June 3, 2016, parental leave. I was informed that because I started the claim process back in November that I will have to reapply for the remainder of my parental leave. My 52 weeks were up, but no one explained this to me. If they had when I first called in to ask questions about being laid off, i never would have started the process. My son will be 5 and a half when I am supposed to reapply. The kicker is, I, now, don't qualify for parental leave because that other job I took only secured me 450 hours, and on top of it, I didn't receive any EI monies until February of this year, so classifying me as an EI recipient doesn't make any logical sense to me. I feel that in situations such as mine there should be more of an effort made to ensuring new mothers are aware of this "rule". I wasn't, and now, instead of enjoying the company of my newborn, I am panicking because I wasn't prepared for this. Although, I will say they do have a department that deals with Requests for Reconsideration, but when I asked for the contact number, there isn't one. I asked for runs the department and someone has to be overseeing it, there is no information available. I have to wait patiently for a decision.It is hard enough having a baby, being on hold with EI for an hour here or an hour there, finding out technicalities that should have been explained, and generally feeling like I took the initiative to find another job and not take advantage of our social spending system, but yet, here I am falling through one of the metaphoric cracks of out system. I can not be the only one who is going through this, and I, adamantly, believe this is a disadvantage to all maternity leave and parental leave recipients. The logic behind supporting a change to the length of time for parents is for the sole benefit of that bond which is created in that one year of leave. I am so worried my son will not have that bond with me due to a generic technicality.
  • Tarah over 3 years ago
    I would love to see both options offered. I personally would elect to take the 18 month option, splitting it with my husband. The inability to find daycare from 12-18mths (let alone affordable daycare) in my area is a very real issue. I acknowledge that this is not perfect - many families would not be able to afford a longer leave. However, it is a step in the right direction for those who might otherwise not return to work. For some, the income earned is barely greater than the cost of daycare, particularly from 12-18mths. The more options the better, in my opinion.
  • Helloholly over 3 years ago
    I would have loved to stay home with my child for 18 months but had to return to work earlier than 1 year because we couldn't afford the lesser income longer than 10 months, if you reduced the income further to allow more time at home this would only benefit higher income earners and not the middle or lower class earners. Going back to work early also forced me to stop breastfeeding before we were ready. More time would be great for bonding, connecting with my child, giving designated weeks for fathers so that it wasn't made to feel like they were taking away from the moms time.
  • shalom over 3 years ago
    As the father who sued the government of Canada to secure parental EI benefits for all parents, I believe I have a unique perspective on this issue. 1) the choices we are being presented with do not include all the reasonable options. We should be asked our view on whether the number of weeks of benefits should be increased with no reduction in rate of benefit, to at least the duration available in Quebec. Children benefit with longer periods of continuous care from parents. As well there is only limited availability of infant child care. 2) a portion of the extended number of weeks should be designated for fathers to create an incentive for more fathers to be involved in child rearing. 3) the percentage of salary that should be paid should be raised as many people cannot afford to be away from work at so low an income. 4) if there are multiple births or adoptions, each child should be guaranteed one parent who receives a full set of EI benefits. We should not provide only one parent with benefits when there is more than one child. 5) EI benefits should be extended to grandparents who replace parents in rearing children while the parents remain at work.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • amarinelli over 3 years ago
      I completely agree with your second point. Why can't the government give every family, whether its a couple or single parent 18 months to split how they see fit.
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      Thank you for your contribution in making Canada a better place to live for families. As a parent of multiples I have been focusing on issues for your number four, but your other points are also very thoughtful and useful. I think number two should be available to the second parent regardless of the gender. It is true that many parents cannot afford to be home at such a low benefit rate, and diluting that over 18 months would make it even more difficult financially.
  • anniechau.ca over 3 years ago
    Taking parental benefits in smaller blocks of time over a longer period of time is advantageous for those, like me, who work on short contract-to-contract basis, as it allows for flexibility to take on some work while receiving benefits. Because of the precarious nature of many people's jobs in current economy, this option would allow people to still be in the workforce (maintain their relevance, connections, etc.) while caring for their family.
  • margaret.schwan over 3 years ago
    Childcare for infants under 18 months is significantly more expensive and it would be more cost effective for our family for me to be able to stay off work caring for our children until 18 months instead of 12 months. Alternatively my husband is a teacher and if I could go back to work for the summer months while he watches the kids and then return to parental leave that would also be a financial help. I see that from an employer's perspective the coming and going would probably be more of a pain than if an employee were to take 18 months off in a row.
    Hide reply (1)
    • obliokramer over 3 years ago
      Too me this is the important point. Daycare is more expensive for infants under 18 months, and I would like to add that it is also more difficult to access because not all daycare centers offer infant care. At 18 months daycare becomes cheaper, and more accessible.
  • Caroline over 3 years ago
    Every family situation is unique and an extension of maternity leave to 18 months would provide greater flexibility to families. It would reduce pressure on families if a parent isn’t ready to go back to work at 12 months, increasing length of care and nurturing between parent and child. It would increase childcare options and reduce childcare costs. I strongly believe that every family should have choices that are right for their family, and an extension to maternity leave would support that.
  • Lpeacey over 3 years ago
    I would take 18 months maternity/parental leave if given the option. It would benefit my family in that my husband could take the last 6 months of the parental leave to spend time with our children as this important bonding and development age. It would also be easier for us to find childcare for an 18 month old vs a 12 month old. The smaller payments would be difficult, but future families could plan for this. I would also love to see protected paternity leave throughout Canada
  • mburzynski over 3 years ago
    Paternity Leave - Time a father takes off work at the birth or adoption of a child. As someone who has extensive knowledge and expertise in the realm of Human Resources, I can say that there can only be advantages to creating greater structure in our policy in regards to strengthening paternity leave for Canadian fathers. Even though I have yet to become a father myself, I can already say that in many ways I disappointed at what's to come once the experience arrives. I'm also saddened to know that in my neighboring province, Quebec, they somehow have been able to adopt what has been proven to be a reasonable policy already! Quebec as it stands is the only province that gives fathers 5 weeks of paid leave for them to use or lose. The question is why have other countries around the world and their policymakers been able to notice that it’s hard to shrink the gender gap in the workplace when the cost of being a parent, in wages and time, is still more expensive for women than men? The answer is simple, balance the ledger means sending more dads home to help raise their children. Use-it-or-lose-it daddy leave sends a message that men should be caregivers, and upends the notion that female workers are the only ones who vanish when baby arrives. If both parents take more equal leave when the baby arrives, then one side isn’t penalized for her absence from the office, and doesn’t miss promotions and pay raises that will put her career permanently on the second-tier track. She’s less likely to be acclaimed resident expert of "diapers and dishes". A Globe and Mail article has already done even the research in case the Government of Canada is worried, and the facts are staggering. More than half of OECD countries now offer some form of paternity leave. Except for Quebec, Canada is not one of them. The solution is simple here, the research has already been done. Give dads the time and they will take it, as Quebec’s example shows.
  • L Hedman over 3 years ago
    I think if parents could take more time off work, with job security, the benefits would be huge. Day care centres would not have huge waiting lists, employers could hire people to gain experience to fill in for those away, the children would benefit the most because they would be with one or more of their parents during important learning years. Those a just a few examples. But each situation is different and some may not allow a person to be away from work for extended periods without penalization of some sort. Even if the parent returns on a part time basis, day care providers prefer full time kids, which makes it difficult to find day care. I think the government should study what some of the European countries do when it comes to parental leave and receiving a wage for being a stay at home parent.
  • anna.kramer over 3 years ago
    I think having more flexibility for parents would be great - either or both options. The only question is if it would make it more difficult for employers.
  • Tkthomas over 3 years ago
    paternity leave as well as funding for affordable day care should be a priority in revisions to benifit working parents
  • craig1977 over 3 years ago
    Adoption leave should be more carefully thought out and extended. Sure, giving birth isn't the issue, but doesn't the adopted child deserve the same parent access as a biological baby? I think most of us would agree that this doesn't make sense.
  • sElizabeth over 3 years ago
    While I agree that there are significant benefits to extending parental leave, I also believe that the lower monthly payment is likely to add additional financial strain for most families. However, by allowing parents to work up to a set number of hours during the leave without the dollar for dollar penalty some of that could be alleviated. The ability to work without penalty would also help keep parents connected to the workplace and allow for better back-to-work transitions after the extended time off. Flexible eligibility would be ideal for workers in seasonal positions, specifically those in two parent households who could structure their leaves accordingly. In addition, I think there should be a defined paternity leave.
  • ErickaG over 3 years ago
    My major concern is that maternity leave does NOT equal adoption leave in the majority of provinces and territories in Canada. Only in SK, NFLD and PEI do adoptive parents qualify for 52 weeks of paid, protected leave. In all other provinces and territories, they only receive ~35 weeks of parental leave. Here's a helpful graphic outlining parental leave policies across Canada - http://www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/understanding-maternity-and-parental-benefits-in-canada. A child is a child, regardless of how a family is formed. Transitioning new baby/child, mom, dad and sibling(s) takes lots of love, energy and time. 35 weeks is inadequate for this task. With more than 60,000 children - in Ontario alone - in the care of Children's Aid, is not the extension of national maternity leave to be inclusive of adoption leave a sound investment? The Adoption Council of Canada (http://www.adoption.ca/ei-benefits-for-adoptive-parents) and the Adoption Council of Ontario (https://www.adoption.on.ca/will-i-qualify-for-parental-leave) have been advocating for additional Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits so that adoptive parents may stay at home to care for their adopted children for more than 5 years. Maybe its time to take these needs into account as well.
  • Mei over 3 years ago
    I suggest that giving two options(12 months vs 18 months) to mums when they claim for EI maternity benefits through Service Canada. Mums like me need to take less than 12 months, otherwise I will lose too much in 18 months policy.I am new to Canada and it was not easy for me to get a good job. I struggled more than a year in this serious recession. Finally, I got a new job offer which is professional and better paid than previous one. But I am on my maternity leave since Oct 2, so I asked the new employer if they can wait for me until Oct 2017 (when my baby is 11-12 months old). Unfortunately,  they can only wait for me until May 2017, when I will still have 5 months of entitled EI benefit left. My mum would like to take care of my baby, so I will start working earlier. But if EI extended to 18 months, I would lose a third of benefit amount per month for 11 months. Another case is that my friend got pregnant after she received 40 weeks of EI maternity leave.She is 5 weeks of pregnancy now. She has to stop her current EI claim and go back to work in order to earn new 600 insurable hours. She is a part time teller in a bank, she works 20 hours per week, so she needs to work 30 weeks from now. Otherwise, her second pregnancy will not be covered by EI Maternity Leave. She lost 10 weeks of EI at current policy, but if it happens with the new 18 months of policy, then she will lose 10+25=35 weeks (9 months) of benefit. The 12-month EI is more beneficial for mums who have to go back to work earlier. For them, 18-month program will decrease their benefit. Please leave 12- month option for my friend and me while launching the new 18-month program.
  • Mattdad over 3 years ago
    Raising our child to 18 months before placing them in daycare is important to our family. Allowing the current amount of parental benefits and unpaid leave to be taken in smaller blocks of time over a period of up to 18 months works for us. We would use this where my wife could take 6months off at the start. I would then take 6month off while my wife returned to work for six months and I provided child care, then my wife would go back on parental leave and receive benefits for another six months. This would extend our time with our child and enable us to support our baby until he/she could be cared for in a toddler day care facility (19-months + ) . In Vancouver toddler daycare is between $100-$300 dollars less per month when compared to infant day care and there is more availability for toddler day care (2014 www.wstcoast.org) It should also be noted that the Payments for family leave are not at all close to the average wage for parents to day. $26.8k - annual benefit to support new parents Average Canadian wage 2016 (inflation adjusted from 2014 census data) Women $34.3k Men $51.5k
  • Rajahaj over 3 years ago
    I'm wondering if anyone has opinion on how an 18 month leave could affect your eligibility for a subsequent maternity leave (600 insurable hours of work in the year preceding your EI claim)? Would it be more difficult to work all the hours if your children were close in age? Has anyone experienced this?
  • cbilyk over 3 years ago
    I strongly support extending paid parental leave to 18 months. I returned to work full-time after my parental leave was finished (1 year). However, I struggled to find child care as it is nearly impossible to find a licensed child care centre in Ottawa that will take a 1-year old child, the programs all start at 18 months. This is a major disconnect and makes no sense. I ended up having my mother come and stay in order to provide childcare until my daughter was old enough to start daycare. I am lucky that I have the family support and financial means to do this, but what about parents who may not have that luxury? In my view there should be a seamless transition between finishing your leave and being able to have your child start childcare full time. Extending leave to 18 months at a lower benefit rate would provide parents with a lot more financial predictability and remove a large amount of stress related to finding childcare.
    Hide Replies (4)
    • ceecee3114 over 3 years ago
      It's absolutely absurd, and shows a real disconnect, that it's impossible to find day care for a 12 month old. I also live in Ottawa and even the City run day centres only start accepting babies at 18 months. The number of spaces for 12 month olds is so limited. I put my name on the wait list when I was 6 weeks pregnant and I'm still unsure if we'll have a space. I'm not even sure what to do. I don't have family who can help. That was originally the back up plan, but now due to health concerns my family members aren't able to provide back up care. I'm frustrated and overwhelmed. And you be honest, I'm angry. What are my options here? If I leave work, I have no job to go back to. We simply can't afford that loss. I'm not even sure what to do. I will have been in a wait list for 21 months and I'm not sure if I'll have a space!? How does this work for Canadian families?
      Hide Replies (2)
      • cbilyk over 3 years ago
        I totally understand your frustration. Most parents, myself included, do not even realize that they won't be able to find licensed child care when they need to return to work after a year off. You can try to find a nanny share or in home daycare to bridge the gap. I feel for you, it's incredibly stressful.
        Hide reply (1)
        • Rajahaj over 3 years ago
          I wasn't even able to find an unlisenced day home until my son was 18 months. There is such a shortage of spots available in SK. We were on over 20 waiting lists. It seems to be a problem across most of the country. Having the option to stay home until 18 months would alleviate a lot of stress!
    • cgorenko over 3 years ago
      Completely agree. I was not fortunate enough to have a family.member be able to provide care and had to go through financial hardship as daycare is more expensive and harder to come by for 12-18m olds. I would love the opportunity to stay home until 18m.
  • 85mcat over 3 years ago
    Really pleased to see the Liberals following through on their promise to extend parental leave. 12 months is far too young to leave babies with a stranger. Many are still breast feeding, napping frequently, not walking yet etc. Not to mention the cost of daycare for a 1 year old, and finding availability. This new 18 month option will not cost taxpayers any additional money, but will give families the flexibility they need. It should not have an effect on employers as they would have already found someone to fill the 12 month position, so it would just be posted as an 18 month position instead. I really hope this gets implemented soon as I am due with my second in May and this has been very stressful thinking about affording two in daycare.
  • ATremblay over 3 years ago
    I would love to be able to work occasionally, maybe once every week or 2, to stay connected to the workplace, up to date and to help out my employer. But I am prohibited from doing this while on leave if I want to maintain my benefits.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Dominique over 3 years ago
      I agree that an extended 18 months would be much more beneficial for the development of the child like others have already said. I also agree with ATremblay. If the amount paid out is less per month, it would help if the maternity program didn't penalize parents able to earn a little side income, maintaining some self-employment or side job if possible, to subsidize the difference so that families can continue to afford the cost of living. In my case, I would like to be able to have some private clients on the side to maintain my practice and skills, for 2-3 days of the week. I will be able to with a supportive partner and others would also with affordable daycare, as others mentioned too. But this does not appear possible if there are still financial penalties for keeping up your skills or earning income during this time to subsidize the difference.
  • SalR over 3 years ago
    I feel the 18 month leave would be beneficial to both the parent and child. Finding care at 12 months is quite difficult due to the lack of centres. Also, the cost of caring for a 12 month vs. 18 month is much higher. Having the ability to grow with the child for a few more months would help financially to parents and help build the child some independence. I am currently pregnant and would really like to benefit with this extension sooner than later.
  • KateEliz2 over 3 years ago
    I would like to know what the research says, as from my observations and experiences a 12 month old and an 18 month old are developmentally very different. Whereas most 18 month olds I know have some degree of independence (walking, feeding themselves with utensils, able to communicate basic needs with a small vocabulary, can dress themselves to an extent, can nap once a day not in a crib etc.), many, totally normal, 12 month olds aren't doing many or any of these things and require a correspondingly higher level of care and the cost associated with that. I think it's definitely possible that for the average family it might make sense for a parent to continue providing that level of care at the suggested lower benefit rate. I also want to add I think daycare providers do an important job and are often underpaid for their work, but without subsidies it's just not possible for an average parent to pay what their worth at a ratio that's appropriate for many children under 18 months.
    Hide reply (1)
    • cbilyk over 3 years ago
      This is a great point. We are at an excellent centre and our daughter loves it. But I feel that ECEs are not appropriately compensated for the very important work that they do. Ideally all parents who want to should be able to have access to excellent, licensed centre-based care. I know that even with the expensive fees we pay, we are not fully covering the cost. I think the proposals for parental leave are an excellent first step - but a strategy for child care is the next step that is needed. I believe that this could be beneficial for the economy as both parents are more likely to return to work, and when you aren't worried about what your child is doing all day you can focus and be more productive.
  • Karam over 3 years ago
    It will be a great idea to extend mat benefits to 18 months because right now when mewkh born starts to recognize to mom she goes back to work and it leads to mom's depression or stress at work. Another thing first few months newly born needs more attention than elder kids so the bond between elder kids and moms or dads goes into a gap extended may leave can give parents a chance to rebuild their family relationship.
  • KateEliz2 over 3 years ago
    We are in Ottawa and also had great difficulty finding care for our son at the end of the one year parental leave. We were able to bridge the gap through my husband taking unpaid leave and the generosity of nearby parents. However both those options are limited, there is only so much leave a company will grant before your position is jeopardized and access to familial support is far from universal. We were open to unlicensed home daycare as well, however finding under 2 spots also proved very difficult. The option to extend leave to 18 months at the proposed amount would have been an excellent option for us, as job security was our biggest concern.