NDP would give par­ents full ben­e­fit for shorter leave, Singh says

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - AMY SMART

VAN­COU­VER — NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh says a New Demo­crat gov­ern­ment would al­low new par­ents to con­dense their em­ploy­ment-in­sur­ance ben­e­fits so they can take shorter parental leaves while still re­ceiv­ing the full ben­e­fit.

Speak­ing at Roots Cafe in Van­cou­ver, where he met with young fam­i­lies Tues­day morn­ing be­fore fly­ing to Ot­tawa, Singh said parental-leave ben­e­fits need to be more flex­i­ble.

Al­low­ing new par­ents to con­dense their parental leaves would give breath­ing room to fam­i­lies who would strug­gle to live on 33 per cent of their salaries for a full 18-month leave pe­riod, he said.

“It’s some­thing that would al­low flex­i­bil­ity to fam­i­lies who can’t af­ford to live off the re­duced amount,” he said.

Con­dens­ing parental-leave ben­e­fits is one of sev­eral ways the NDP would ad­just the dis­tri­bu­tion of EI ben­e­fits.

Many Cana­di­ans work pre­car­i­ous jobs with un­steady hours, so the NDP is also propos­ing a uni­ver­sal qual­i­fy­ing thresh­old of 360 hours for reg­u­lar EI cov­er­age.

“It will al­low for more cov­er­age for more peo­ple. That’s a bold step for­ward that re­sponds to the re­al­ity of a lot of work­ers who aren’t work­ing a tra­di­tional job with tra­di­tional hours,” he said.

Cur­rently, work­ers need to have ac­cu­mu­lated be­tween 420 and 700 hours of in­sur­able em­ploy­ment dur­ing a qual­i­fy­ing pe­riod — typ­i­cally a year — to be en­ti­tled to EI ben­e­fits.

A New Demo­crat gov­ern­ment would also in­crease the wa­gere­place­ment rate to 60 per cent from 55 per cent.

Tues­day was the NDP cam­paign’s eighth straight day in Bri­tish Columbia, where Singh has made sev­eral re­gion­ally fo­cused an­nounce­ments.

The cafe meet-and-greet came the day af­ter Singh said an NDP gov­ern­ment would spend $10 bil­lion over the next four years to cre­ate 500,000 new child-care spa­ces in Canada with the goal of of­fer­ing free ser­vices for some par­ents.

Singh said prices would be capped at $10 a day and build on a sim­i­lar pro­gram in Que­bec as well as a pi­lot project that started last year in Bri­tish Columbia.

He said the goal is to get to uni­ver­sal­ity, which would mean no cost for fam­i­lies that can’t af­ford it and low cost for those that can.

The Lib­er­als have promised that new par­ents won’t pay any taxes on ma­ter­nity and parental leave ben­e­fits, while the Con­ser­va­tives have promised a tax credit that would ef­fec­tively re­turn the money paid.

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