On February 27th, the Liberal Government announced their 2018 Federal Budget with a strong emphasis on gender equality and getting more women working, especially after having children.
One of the most talked about additions to the budget is the new EI Parental Sharing Supplement.
The Budget plan states “the Government is proposing a new EI Parental Sharing Benefit to support equality in the home and the workplace by providing an additional five weeks of benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This measure would also provide greater flexibility— particularly for mothers—to return to work sooner, if they so choose, knowing their family has the support they need.”
The key things to know about this new “use-it-or-lose-it” additional five weeks of shared leave:
These new measures will help families in a variety of ways. Women will now have the opportunity to return to work a bit earlier, and men will be able to spend additional quality time bonding with their young children. Grandparents and adoptive parents, who were often left of out the equation, are now included in the budget.
The move to shared parental leave feels optimistic, but it’s important to consider Canadians that are unable to take advantage of this new opportunity.
47% of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque, according to a recent survey conducted by Canadian Payroll Association.
New families may find it difficult to take advantage of Parental Leave when only 55% of their income in covered by the Government. Employers are expected to make up the rest of the lost income, but not all employers offer a top-up.
Single parents who don’t have a partner need the most support, but they’re unable to access the additional five weeks - unless there’s someone else willing to step in to the caregiver role.
The Canadian government hasn’t addressed these concerns. To offer equal opportunity for all Canadians, the Government needs to understand the difficult situations that the marginalized and lower income Canadians find themselves in.
One of the biggest missing pieces in the new budget was any mention of new child care initiatives. Arguably one of the most difficult tasks to get women back into the workplace is the cost of child care.
Without affordable or subsidized child care more women will find it impossible to return to employment when they’re income barely covers daycare expenses.
The 2018 Federal Budget takes aim at Gender Equality, but it misses the mark, and lacks opportunity for every woman.