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Not all Parents Benefit from Canada's Parental Leave Program
January 15, 2018
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TVO's current affairs blog recently addressed the disparities in income support for new parents in Canada. As the blog notes, historically Canada has compared favourably to "its OECD peers when it comes to parental leave," and in December 2017, the Canadian government further expanded its parental leave program. The new policy extends benefits from 12 months of partially paid leave to 18. The amount of the benefit remains unchanged, but what has changed is that parents can now stretch the same amount over 18 months.

The TVO blog asks the question, who benefits from these changes? The changes are most likely to be adopted by middle- and higher-income families who are able to take "a reduced-pay leave for longer periods of time."

Parents who are least likely to be able to access parental leave income are those precariously employed, part-time, shift, and contract workers. The program is paid through Employment Insurance, which requires workers to pay into the program before they can draw benefits from it.

Donna Lero, a professor emeritus of the University of Guelph and co-founder of the Centre for Families, Work and Well-being also points out that recent minimum-wage increases in Ontario and British Columbia may impact parents' capacity to qualify for certain parental leave income supplements. While the increase in minimum wage may increase low-wage workers hourly rate, the overall impact to the Family Income Supplement may be negative. There is a chance that the increase in wages may make them ineligible for the current Family Income Supplement, a support available to low-income families.  "It's a technicality, but it could affect low-wage workers disproportionately," she says.

Read the full TVO blog post here: