Up to 97,000 Canadian families are expected to claim the parental sharing benefit per year
BURLINGTON, ON, March 15, 2019 /CNW/ - Supporting parents and young families has always been a priority for the Government of Canada. That is why the Government will introduce the Employment Insurance parental sharing benefit.
Today, at the WOMB (World of My Baby) in Burlington, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced that in two days, soon-to-be parents will be eligible to receive extra weeks of parental benefits. In an effort to encourage more parents to share the work of raising their children more equally, the Government of Canada will launch the parental sharing benefit on March 17, 2019.
The new measure will be available to parents, including adoptive or same-sex parents, for a child born or placed for the purpose of adoption on or after March 17, 2019—as long as they are eligible for and share their Employment Insurance parental benefits. When parents agree to do so, they will benefit from one of the following:
- five additional weeks of parental benefits when choosing the standard option; or
- eight additional weeks for those who choose the extended option.
Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code will also be made to ensure that federally regulated private‑sector employees have the right to take leave while receiving the parental sharing benefit without fear of losing their job.
"As we've seen in Quebec and in other jurisdictions that have implemented similar policies, this type of benefit has been proven to encourage a more balanced sharing of child care responsibilities. This new measure will help us break down barriers to gender equality by shifting cultural attitudes against men taking parental leave, and will help Canadians spend more time with their families."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
"The introduction of the new five-week parental sharing benefit is welcome news for Canadian families. This additional leave will encourage all parents to be engaged in full-time caregiving for their infants, helping to create greater financial security for women, and stronger bonds between fathers or second parents and their babies. By encouraging a more equitable distribution of child care within the home, this new parental leave benefit gives families more flexible child care options and advances gender equality both at home and in the workplace."
– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality
"Providing women with equal economic opportunities will drive innovation and support middle-class families. Today's announcement shows the progress we have made towards creating a more gender-equal Canada, while providing the opportunity to reflect on the fact that child care duties still fall disproportionately on mothers."
– The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Burlington
"The introduction of a 'use it or lose it' shared parental leave system is a huge victory for gender equality and for families across the country. As the former Vice-Chair of the Status of Women Committee, I was proud to see the Government introduce this key recommendation found in our report on the Economic Security of Women in Canada. It will lead to a more equitable sharing of unpaid care responsibilities. When all parents are incentivized to take leave to support their families, women will no longer be penalized for taking the leave they are entitled to. Shared parental leave results in more professional opportunities for women, greater labour market participation rates and improved access to senior positions. Simply put, shared parental leave is good for families and the economy."
– Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament for Oakville North–Burlington and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health
"The WOMB is a sacred, loving space for the whole family to be fully supported, nourished and nurtured in our community. We are sure that this new parental sharing benefit will provide even more opportunities for families to actively participate in creating strong family bonds. We welcome and look forward to seeing more involvement with both parents, when applicable, in our offerings at The WOMB."
– Lorri Fleming, Co-Founder/Director, The WOMB – World of My Baby
- In 2016–17, women represented 85 percent of all parental benefit claims made, indicating that child care duties continue to fall heavily on mothers.
- In 2017, in large part due to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, 81 percent of spouses or partners of recent mothers in Quebec claimed or intended to claim parental benefits, compared to only 12 percent in the rest of Canada.
Parental sharing benefit
Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits are available to EI-eligible parents, allowing them to take time off work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The most common scenario in Canada, however, is a mother taking on the primary caregiving responsibilities. Child care duties continue to fall disproportionately to mothers, both in the short term following the arrival of a child and over the longer term.
Budget 2018 announced the EI parental sharing benefit, which provides additional weeks of benefits to families when the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child share parental benefits.
With the sharing benefit, parents selecting the standard duration of parental benefits could receive up to 40 weeks of parental benefits, an increase from the current 35 weeks. No parent could access more than 35 weeks in total, requiring more than one parent to take some time off in order to access some or all of the additional weeks.
Parents selecting the extended duration of parental benefits could receive up to 69 weeks of parental benefits, an increase from the current 61 weeks. No parent could access more than 61 weeks in total, requiring parents to share the leave in order to access some or all of the additional weeks.
The new measure is available to parents who make a claim for parental benefits for children born or placed for adoption on or after March 17, 2019.
Parents who share parental benefits must choose the same parental benefits option (standard or extended) when they apply for benefits. The standard parental benefit weeks are paid at a rate of 55 percent of average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum of $562. The extended parental benefit weeks are paid at a rate of 33 percent of average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum of $337. Parental benefits can be accessed at the same time or separately.
The choice of the first parent who completes the application is binding on any other parents of the child. Once parental benefits start being paid on the claim of either parent, parents cannot change their duration option (standard or extended) but may change how they share the weeks of benefits.
Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code have also been made to ensure that employees working in the federally regulated private sector have job protection while receiving the parental sharing benefit.
Specifically, the amendments to the Code will increase the maximum aggregate amount of parental leave that may be taken by more than one employee for the same birth or adoption from the current 63 weeks to 71 weeks, while the maximum amount of leave taken by one employee will remain at 63 weeks. The amendments will also increase the maximum aggregate amount of maternity and parental leave taken by more than one employee from the current 78 weeks to 86 weeks, while one employee cannot take more than the current 78 weeks of maternity and parental leave.
The extended duration of the leave will also provide these employees with greater flexibility to meet their unique family and work situations. The leave provisions under the Canada Labour Code would only apply to federally regulated private-sector employees, and not to provincially or territorially regulated employees. Employees should validate with their employer or provincial/territorial authority the leave provisions that apply to their situation.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: For media enquiries, please contact: Valérie Glazer, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, 819-654-5546; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]