N.S. government promises to act on NDP parental leave concern

Parents who want more time off to look after a newborn will be afforded some job protection to take advantage of the 18-month Employment Insurance program Ottawa announced last December.

Labour minister says government wants to ensure job protection for parents on leave

Labi Kousoulis, Nova Scotia's labour minister, says the government wants parents to have job security. (CBC)

Parents who want more time off to look after a newborn will be afforded some job protection to take advantage of the 18-month Employment Insurance program Ottawa announced last December.

But how long they have to work in order to have their job held for them remains a mystery.

This fall, the governing Liberals twice voted down amendments proposed by the NDP to grant employees job protection after 17 weeks on the job with the same employer. 

Amendments to the province's Labour Standards Code passed third and final reading this week in the legislature without any mention of job protection.

Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis said that's not because job security isn't on the government's radar.

"We want to be able to have the flexibility of possibly looking at no time at all, so that as soon as you're hired by a company you have job protection as a parent," Kousoulis told CBC News. 

He added the government plans to make changes to the code's regulations by December.

New Democrat Claudia Chender, who has hounded the government over the issue, said she's skeptical of the minister's promise.

New Democrat Claudia Chender says the Liberals should have accepted her party's proposed amendments to the Labour Standards Code.

"With all due respect, if the government agreed with us, they should have accepted our amendment and changed the bill," she said.

Chender said as the law is now written, some EI claimants could qualify to receive the cheque from Ottawa but not have any job protection.

"That means they've got to go back into the workforce with a small child and look for a new job in an already difficult labour market," she said.

"If they don't take their leave it means they don't have the opportunity to be home with their child which we know is so important."

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.