Have your say: Is the new five-week parental sharing benefit a good idea?

The new five-week parental sharing benefit announced in the 2018 federal budget is causing some concern among employers.

Commenting on Benefits Canada’s website, Asha Mohammed, director of human resources and payroll at Centennial College’s Tribute Communities, asked: “Why a new leave again? This is such an expense to employers who are already stressed with all the leaves.”

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, agrees with taking further measures to encourage shared parental leave, but he notes that sharing the existing leave is a better option than adding more time to the total length of leave. For small employers, there could be issues around the practicalities of providing an additional five weeks, as well as the estimated cost, he says.

Read: Budget offers details on new five-week leave for second parent

“Just dealing with the cost, first of all,” he says. “It’s estimated in the budget that it’s around $330 million a year in new employment insurance costs as a result of this plan. And while the budget also shows that the EI rate is not expected to go up as a result . . . in the next few years, had this change not taken place the rate actually would have been allowed to drop. Which, of course, we would have preferred, especially in light of the fact that CPP rates are going to start to climb as of Jan. 1, 2019.”

From a practicality standpoint, it can be very difficult for companies to find coverage for parental leaves as it stands, says Kelly. He notes that most small businesses will try to manage these leaves without replacing staff, which ultimately shifts stress to the other employees. “. . . It would have been nice if the federal government actually consulted with businesses before going down this road,” he adds.

What do you think? Is the new five-week parental sharing benefit a good idea? Will it help parents share child-rearing duties and help women more easily enter the workforce? Or is it one more leave for employers to worry about and unnecessary after the government extended employment insurance parental benefits in 2017? Have your say in our weekly online poll.

Read: Parental leave rules set to undergo major shift as provinces adjust to EI changes

After the federal budget included the establishment of an advisory council on the implementation of a national pharmacare program, last week’s poll question asked whether such a program will actually happen. About half (53 per cent) of respondents said they feel something will happen around pharmacare, but that it will likely be a slimmed-down version, such as a minimum common formulary for people who lack drug coverage. Among the remaining respondents, 28 per cent said no, there are too many barriers, such as costs and jurisdictional challenges, and 19 per cent said yes, it’s an idea whose time has come and the political will and pressure are significant.

Read: Budget confirms new advisory council on implementation of national pharmacare