September 26, 2020 | News | No Comments
The Canadian government’s expanded parental leave policies—designed to give new parents more flexiblity—go into effect December 3. While supporters say the revised rules are good for parents and the economy, anti-poverty and child care advocates say more changes are needed to benefit lower-income parents.
Under the rule changes, parents of a newborn or newly adopted child who take parental leave on or after December 3 will be able spread out their 12-month benefits over 18 months—meaning they could remain with their child an extra six months and receive up to $326 a week, rather than taking a year off with a weekly benefit that is capped at $543.
Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, who explained the changes at an event on Thursday, said, “Anything that makes it easier for families to balance work and life is good for our economy, is good for our businesses.” The government estimates that up to 20,000 families may take advantage of the new option.
However, some say the changes will make the biggest difference for those with high incomes. The government has “budgeted $886 million over the next five years for the new measures, and $204.8 million a year after that,” the Huffington Post reports.
Morna Ballantyne, executive director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, told the Toronto Star that the Canadian that the government should have instead invested in expanding daycare offering for children under 18 months, which are often expensive and hard to find.
“It’s about one-third of families, who, in the current system say that they have a hard time making ends meet,” Jennifer Robson, a Carleton University professor who studies tax policy, poverty in Canada, and public administration, told The National, CBC‘s nightly news program. However, the question raising concerns is: “Will they actually be able to exerise that choice to spread their benefit out over 18 months?”
The National reports that small business owners have expressed concerns about the costs of training temporary replacement staffers, and finding staff to fill positions for longer amounts of time—and resistance among employers could complicate the implementation of the new option.
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