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e-2566 (Employment and labour)

Initiated by Krista Ellsworth from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

  • Due to the lockdown, parents on maternity or parental leave have had to refrain from the important social engagement and group bonding that is crucial for healthy child development; and
  • Those who are currently on leave have also missed out on having the hands on support of family, friends, and grandparents that is necessary for child development as well as the mental health of parents
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to extend paid maternity or parental leave by 3 months in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.

Response by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): IREK KUSMIERCZYK

The Government of Canada thanks the petitioners for sharing their views on the need to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government acknowledges the challenges of caring for young children, and recognizes that the public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have affected the supports available to new parents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for all Canadians, including new parents. However, Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits have remained in place throughout the pandemic to provide income support to new parents who have needed to take time off work. Maternity benefits provide temporary income support to new and expecting mothers who are away from work during pregnancy and for childbirth recovery, while parental benefits provide temporary income support to new parents who take time away from work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child.

Parents have a choice between standard and extended parental benefits. When shared between parents, standard parental benefits provide up to 40 weeks of benefits paid at 55% of average weekly earnings over 12 months. No parent can receive more than 35 weeks of benefits. Parents selecting the extended parental benefits can receive up to 69 weeks of benefits paid at 33% of average weekly earnings over 18 months. No parent can receive more than 61 weeks of benefits.

Parents who could not return to work after their maternity or parental leave because their employer closed or they had to stay home with their child may have been eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provided $500 per week for up to 28 weeks to eligible workers.

The Government has transitioned from the CERB to a simplified EI program, effective September 27, 2020, to provide income support to eligible workers who remain unable to work. Recognizing that many workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will have lost their jobs or worked reduced hours, a set of temporary measures have been introduced to facilitate access to EI benefits. These include allowing Canadians to qualify for EI with 120 hours of work (including EI parental and maternity benefits), introducing a minimum benefit rate of $500 per week (or $300 for extended parental benefits), and providing a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular benefits.

The Government of Canada has also introduced a suite of three new temporary recovery benefits to support workers who are unable to work due to COVID-19: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.  

In particular, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will be available for one year, and provides $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks per household to workers who are unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick with or must isolate due to COVID-19, or are at risk of having serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19.

Access to affordable childcare is not a new challenge for families in Canada, but the pandemic has certainly shown just how critical accessible, affordable, inclusive and high quality childcare is for the economy, families and children.

The Government of Canada will also make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare and will continue to work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all. Through this continued support, Canadian parents will have access to new opportunities to build a better future for themselves and their children.

Once again, the Government of Canada wishes to thank the petitioners. Their views will be taken into consideration in the Government’s ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open for signature
July 7, 2020, at 3:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 6, 2020, at 3:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
September 29, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00031)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia
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