Shared Parental Leave benefit to give families five more weeks of paid leave
Minister for the Status of Women Maryam Monsef held a roundtable with a handful of parents and their newborns in Peterborough on Monday to pitch the federal government’s new shared parental leave program.
Monse, who is also Peterborough-Kawartha MP, held the roundtable to discuss the details of the parental leave program, which gives families an extra five weeks of paid benefits which families can apply for through the employment insurance plans.
“This morning we announced a new parental benefit that allows fathers, same-sex couples, secondary or adoptive parents to take an additional five weeks through EI benefits to be home when a newborn has arrived to share the responsibilities of care but also to enjoy that time together,” Monsef said.
It’s being described as a “use-it-or-lose-it” measure. The program which won’t officially be implemented until June 2019, but some of the families in attendance hailed the initiative as a way to strengthen the family.
“Traditionally the idea was that the men march off to work and the women are at home with their children,” said new dad Carlo Raponi. “Some men can’t afford to take extra time off or create a space to connect with their child, and I’m not talking about an afternoon or on the weekend, so this enables that opportunity.”
On a yearly average, Statistics Canada says women make 31 per cent less than men do, as women spend more time caring for families. This makes them more prone to working shorter hours, which affects their parental leave and EI benefits and also their long-term pension and savings.
Monsef says benefits like the shared parental leave is about changing those gender norms to allow families greater opportunities and more flexibility.
The Liberal government will set aside $1.2 billion over five years to implement the parental sharing benefit program. The government’s 2018 budget, unveiled last week, will lead to an $18.1 billion deficit which the Liberals say will drop to $12.3 billion by 2022-23.
Maryanne Whitmore applauds the new Sharing Parental Leave benefit, the mother of two says her husband was able to take two-week vacation during the birth of their second child and said that time together helped. “The ability to have your partner around in those early and challenging weeks is really positive.”