Dads, same-sex parents, and adoptive parents will now have up to eight additional weeks of leave after the birth of a child, but in order to receive the extra leave both parents need to take time off to care for the newborn.
As part of the federal government’s budget’s new incentives to push gender equality, this “use-it-or-lose-it” policy increases parental leave by five additional weeks on top of the traditional 12-month parental leave option, or eight weeks of extra leave for the new 18-month option.
However, there will not be any increase in benefits for the additional weeks. The policy offers up to 55% of income, whereas Quebec’s provincial model offers 70%.
The added incentive will be available starting in June 2019, and is expected to cost the federal government $1.2 billion over the first five years and $344.7 million per year thereafter.
The federal government says the incentive, known as the EI Parental Sharing Benefit, is intended to encourage more new dads and other non-birth parents to take parental leave allowing moms transition back to work.
According to the budget, there is inequality as new mothers accounting for 92% of Canadians receiving parental benefits. The overall responsibility of child care duties “continue to fall disproportionately to mothers, both in the short term following the arrival of their child, and over the longer term.”
This is often leads to challenges when it comes to re-entering the workforce after the extensive time they have spent on leave.
“Providing additional weeks of benefits will help encourage greater equality when it comes to child care, and improve the distribution of family and home responsibilities,” reads the budget.
“It will also provide greater flexibility—particularly for mothers— to return to work sooner, if they so choose, knowing their family has the support it needs. More equitable parental leave will also help lead to more equitable hiring practices, reducing conscious and unconscious discrimination by employers.”