Kitchener-Waterloo

Extra 5 weeks of parental leave granted for those who share benefit, say feds

Starting on Sunday, parents of a newborn or newly-adopted child can receive up to 40 weeks of standard benefits if they share it with their partner raising the same child. This is a five-week increase compared to the current 35 weeks that parents are eligible for. 

Federal government wants to encourage more men to take on child caring duties

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement at the Grow Community Centre in Cambridge, Ont. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Starting on Sunday, parents of a newborn or newly-adopted child can receive an additional five weeks of standard parental benefits if they choose to share it with their spouse raising the same child. 

This brings the total number of weeks they can take to 40, compared to the 35 that parents are currently eligible for. 

The announcement came Friday afternoon from Canada's Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, at the Grow Community Centre in Cambridge, Ont.

He says the changes are to encourage more parents to share the work of raising their children more equally. 

"We expect...conversations in action to change at home and at work... reduced discrimination in the workplace against women because there's greater equality in the sharing of responsibility and joys of looking after children," said Duclos.  

For parents who choose an extended option, an additional eight weeks will be granted if they share the benefit with their spouse, making it a total of 69 weeks instead of the current 61. 

Reducing gender barriers 

According to the federal government, women represent 85 per cent of all parental benefit claims made in 2016 to 2017, which indicates that child care duties continue to fall on mothers. 

"It'd be great to see more fathers take that role so mothers can have a chance to go out and have their turn to go and earn a living and see what it's like to not have as much responsibility," said Heidi Wesley, a parent who was at the announcement and uses the services at the Grow Community Centre. 

"It would be nice to see that different turn in the community," she said. 

Duclos says women represented 85 per cent of all parental benefit claims made in 2016 to 2017, which indicates that child care duties continue to fall on mothers.  (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Duclos said he expects to see a change in mens' attitudes about home and work. 

"It's a wonderful opportunity. If you do this as a father... you benefit in ways that you'll never regret in the future. As a father and mother, the time for which you're able to benefit from the presence of young children is limited," he said. 

To qualify, both parents must choose the same parental benefits option — whether that's standard or extended option.

Changes come in effect on March 17. 

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