The federal government only recently revamped parental leave, but it’s already looking at even further changes through a dedicated paternity leave.
In a report this week, The Canadian Press cited multiple sources who suggested the government is considering options such as a new benefit, similar to a program in Quebec, that would earmark a portion of parental leave for new fathers or non-birthing parents.
The news agency quoted a spokesperson for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos as saying officials are looking at different options and would provide more details later this year.
“If fathers had dedicated paternity leave outside of Quebec, then we would expect to see more dads taking advantage of that, because oftentimes, we’re hearing from the dads that they have to wrestle time away from mom,” says Nora Spinks, chief executive officer of the Vanier Institute of the Family.
“So it’s a negotiation between couples where she wants to stay home for the year, but he wants to stay home for a month or two and he can’t do that because she wants to use up every minute she can,” says Spinks.
“Not all dads who want to take a share in child rearing of a newborn are able to do so, unlike in the province of Quebec where the vast majority of new dads are active participants in care for a newborn,” she adds. “And we know that to be true around the world. When there is dedicated paternity leave, there is a greater likelihood that A, dads will take it, and B, they’ll take it for longer.”
In terms of the possible impact on employers, Spinks says it likely wouldn’t be different than what happens with any kind of leave.
“And the organizations that are going to succeed are the ones that see any kind of family leave as a normal part of life, a normal part of business. You can expect it to happen for everybody, and now that we have the new family care benefit, even if you don’t have kids, chances are you’re not an orphan and so you’re going to be caring for siblings or parents or grandparents, even. It is a natural part of life, and it’s an opportunity to do cross-training and professional development and looking at the way you design work and work flow.”
What do you think? Is a dedicated paternity leave a good idea? Is it the best way of ensuring new fathers take leave or has the government already made enough changes to parental benefits recently by allowing people to now take 18 months? Have your say in Benefits Canada‘s online poll.
Last week’s poll question asked whether other plans were likely to follow the lead of some larger public pension funds in divesting from fossil fuels. The result was a fairly even split, with 45 per cent of respondents saying other plans are likely to follow some of the big public funds given the increased awareness of the long-term risks of fossil fuel investments. However, the majority of respondents, 55 per cent, felt the current trend is specific to public pension funds and there are ways plans can respond to the issue besides divestment.