Let’s broaden parental and compassionate leave consultation

October 25, 2016

What’s the rush?

The Trudeau government is consulting on reforms to parental and compassionate leave programs in Canada. The consultation is online and open to feedback for ONLY four weeks (October 6 to November 10). As well, the government appears to have done limited publicity about the consultation process.

This is unfortunate as changes could have far-reaching implications for new parents and those caring for a sick loved one.

We’ve examined the survey and this is what we think. The government is putting forward the narrowest of options for Canadians to consider. We need to keep in mind the perspective of the employee, the perspective of the care recipient, and the family as a whole when designing improvements to both parental and compassionate leaves. We don’t believe the government’s proposals do that.

For example, the government’s proposals on parental leave won’t address the childcare crisis. No EI benefit is going to replace the need for a comprehensive, public, universal, affordable childcare program.

The proposal for longer parental leaves seems incomplete. We support the $10aDay plan, which calls for extended parental leave, with accessibility expanded to include the self-employed and greater enforcement of people being able to return to their job. The federal proposal seems to offer none of this.

Adequate incomes during parental leave also needs to be addressed. The current wage replacement of 55 percent in all provinces except Quebec is too low for many families to afford. Unless a top up is available through a collective agreement.

The proposals for compassionate care are problematic as well.

They don’t address badly needed investments in the health care system or in eldercare programs. We also think the replacement rates will make compassionate leave unaffordable for some families.

If these issues matter to you, I encourage you to take the time to let the government know before the deadline. You can find the survey here.  

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