New parental benefit will arrive ‘in the coming months’
The federal government is set to implement a new parenting benefit that will offer parents who adopt or raise their families with the help of a surrogate mother more time at home with their child.
CTV News has learned that major reforms to employment insurance will be announced in the coming months, and the overhaul will include a new 15-week parental benefit.
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrow told CTV National News in an exclusive interview that a new adoptive parent benefit is being created to cover parents who adopt a child through surrogacy.
“It is a matter of justice,” said the minister. “We need to make sure people are connecting, and we heard it very loudly in our consultations on the EI upgrade, that parents want it and we’re going to deliver it for them.”
The liberals promised during the 2019 federal election Introduce a 15-week holiday for parents who adopt so that “everyone gets the same benefits”, but excluded families growing with the help of a surrogate mother.
It the promise was repeated of the Minister of Employment in 2021
Years later, the changes have still not been implemented.
Under the current EI system, standard parental leave offers one parent up to 35 weeks of paid leave or up to 40 weeks of leave shared between parents. In addition, anyone who gives birth is entitled to up to 15 more weeks of maternity leave.
When asked if the government is considering increases to the weekly EI maximum, Qualtrow said the government has been working to better understand how changes to EI payments affect workers’ and employers’ payments.
“Absolutely all of that is on the table,” he said. “It’s all mixed up in terms of a modern approach that is much more equitable, especially for women.”
Intended parents Baden and Zane Colt are advocating an extra 15 weeks so they can spend more time with their baby, due in July.
“Really, what we’re looking for is for all Canadian children to have the same opportunity from birth, whether they’re born to their own parents, adopted or born through surrogacy,” Baden-Coult said.
Dr. Jean Clinton, MD and professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University, says the science shows that the more time parents can spend with their babies, the better.
“What we know is what it is [babies] need people who think the sun rises and sets on them,” he said. “I absolutely believe that no matter how that baby, that gift, that precious one is brought to families, they should have the opportunity to have a full, engaged, many, many, many weeks together.”
The Colts are hoping to get that extra time, but with their baby due in July, the family isn’t overly optimistic that the allowance will be available before then.
“I think the government will move very quickly on that, so we’ll see what happens,” Zane Colt said. “Hopefully for the second baby, when that happens in the next couple of years, we’ll have it.”
It’s unclear how soon the new benefit will be available. The federal budget will be presented on March 28, but the employment minister did not say whether the EI reforms would be included.
“I’m not going to take away the finance minister, but I can just say in the coming months and leave it at that,” Qualtrow said.
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