Nfld. & Labrador

NDP promises substantial increase in parental leave benefits

An NDP government would dramatically overhaul the parent leave program in Newfoundland and Labrador, making it more affordable to couples to start and grow their families.

Raising benefit to 80 per cent of income will cost $23 million annually, says Earle McCurdy

Eleri Moore, the mother of two young children, applauded a pledge on Thursday by the NDP to significantly enhance parental leave benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

An NDP government would dramatically overhaul the parental leave program in Newfoundland and Labrador, making it more affordable for couples to start and grow their families, Leader Earle McCurdy announced Thursday.

The party would raise the employment insurance benefit from 55 per cent to 80 per cent of regular income, which could result in an additional $1,000 in additional monthly income for some families, said McCurdy.

He said the intent is to tackle the province's declining birth rate, which is among the lowest in the country.

"We need to provide more and better opportunities for young families to put down roots in our province and to raise a family right here at home," McCurdy said.

If implemented, the enhanced leave program would cost the province $23 million annually, he added.

Currently, the province pays $1,000 to a family following the birth or adoption of a child, and monthly payments of $100.

McCurdy  said he's constantly hearing of families coping with economic struggles, and suggested that many couples are not having children because of those pressures.

A young mother of two who joined McCurdy for the announcement said enhanced parental leave benefits could help reverse the province's declining birth rate.

And Eleri Moore speaks from experience.

She said her employer tops up her parental leave income to 93 per cent, which had a strong influence on their decision to have children.

"I know how valuable it is," Moore said. "We've been able to start our family when we really wanted to."

She added, "There's no price you can put on the joy of staying home with your children. This really changes that."

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About the Author

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.

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