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Quebec government promises equal leave benefits for adoptive parents

Click to play video: 'Making parental leave benefits equal for all Quebec parents' Making parental leave benefits equal for all Quebec parents
WATCH: The labour minister says he's not backtracking from the parental leave bill tabled last week. Raquel Fletcher explains. – Dec 3, 2019

A group of adoptive Quebec parents came to the National Assembly Tuesday morning to convince Labour Minister Jean Boulet they deserve the same benefits as biological parents.

If new legislation, Bill 51 is passed, a biological mother will still have 13 more weeks maternity leave than an adoptive mother.

One father says adopted children, like his son, need their parents just as long because they often experience trauma or abandonment issues.

“He took my wife as a life buoy and he was spending totally 20 hours a day, 23 hours a day on my wife,” said Yannick Munger with the Fédération des parents adoptants du Québec.

“He was sleeping on her chest. It was really, really exhausting for her and me I wasn’t able to approach him at all.”

READ MORE: Slim pickings for Quebecers wanting to adopt internationally

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The Colation Avenir Québec government promised to give all parents the same number of weeks, but last week, the minister tabled a bill that gives different benefits to biological parents, parents who adopt in Quebec and parents who adopt a child from another country.

“I read it and I said, ‘Oh my god, it’s very complicated. Why is it so complicated?'” said social worker Johanne Lemieux.

“It could be very simple and everybody would win.”

Opposition parties, meanwhile, have been pushing the government to backtrack.

“Parents want to be recognized as real parents,” said Québec solidaire co-spokesperson, Manon Massé.

READ MORE: Tories pledge help for adoptive parents with extra EI leave, expanded tax credit

The government says it risks being taken to court if it gives adoptive parents the same parental leave under the Quebec insurance regime, but after speaking with these parents, Boulet says he is going to look for another way to compensate them.

“I’m not backtracking whatsoever,” the labour minister said.

“It’s very difficult not to be discriminatory towards biological parents, but I can find additional options that I can explore, a variety of different options that … can reach the objective of full equality.”

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The minister said it might take two or three years to come up with the solution.

The PQ says the government is making things unnecessarily complicated to avoid a slim chance of a lawsuit.

“Can you imagine a biological mother going to court to say, ‘You know, I still have the same rights…but I’m still unhappy because I believe that adopted children should not have their parents for a year with them,” said Joliette MNA Véronique Hivon.

“It doesn’t make any sense.”

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