Ex­panded parental leave to come into ef­fect Dec. 3

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - NATIONAL NEWS - JOR­DAN PRESS

OT­TAWA — New moth­ers and fa­thers plan­ning to be­gin their parental leave on or af­ter Dec. 3 will be able to spread their fed­eral ben­e­fits over a longer pe­riod of time.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s long-promised changes to parental leave rules will go into ef­fect early next month, says Fam­i­lies Min­is­ter Jean Yves Du­c­los, al­low­ing eli­gi­ble new par­ents to take up to 18 months of em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance ben­e­fits af­ter the birth of a child.

On that same date, a new fam­ily care­giver ben­e­fits will also kick in — one a 15-week leave to care for a crit­i­cally ill or in­jured adult, the other a 35-week ben­e­fit to care for a crit­i­cally ill or in­jured child.

Eli­gi­ble soon-to-be-moth­ers will also be able to claim ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits up to 12 weeks be­fore the baby is due.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment won’t in­crease the ac­tual value of em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance ben­e­fits for any­one who takes the ex­tended parental leave: in­stead, the Lib­er­als are stick­ing with their 2015 elec­tion prom­ise to spread 12 months’ worth of ben­e­fits over 18 months.

The change in rules will au­to­mat­i­cally give more work­ers in fed­er­ally reg­u­lated work­places like banks, trans­port com­pa­nies, the pub­lic ser­vice and tele­coms the op­tion of tak­ing time off, and are likely to spur calls for pro­vin­cial changes to al­low the other 92 per cent of Cana­dian work­ers ac­cess to sim­i­lar leave.

So far, On­tario has pub­licly said it will amend its leg­is­la­tion to match the new fed­eral rules.

Af­fected work­places will have to de­cide how — or even if — to amend ex­ist­ing leave poli­cies and col­lec­tive agree­ments that spell out is­sues like salary top-ups.

As is, the fed­eral parental leave pro­gram pays out ben­e­fits for up to 17 weeks for new moth­ers and al­lows par­ents to split an ad­di­tional 35 weeks.

Un­der the changes first out­lined in this year’s bud­get, new par­ents ap­ply for em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance ben­e­fits, they will be able to de­cide whether to take ad­di­tional weeks off, which can be split be­tween par­ents.

Any­one who is al­ready re­ceiv­ing 35 weeks of parental leave be­fore the new mea­sures of­fi­cially come into ef­fect won’t be able to switch and take the ex­tra time.

The el­i­gi­bil­ity for the cash won’t change: A new par­ent will still need 600 hours of work in the pre­vi­ous 12 months to ac­cess ben­e­fits, while self-em­ployed work­ers who have opted in to the EI sys­tem will need to have earned at least $6,888 in the last year.

The Lib­er­als bud­geted $886 mil­lion over the next five years for the new mea­sures, and $204.8 mil­lion a year af­ter that.

None of the parental leave changes will im­pact res­i­dents of Que­bec, where the province runs its own parental leave pro­gram.

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