How the 2018 Canadian Federal Budget Still Misses the Mark for Women

It’s important to consider Canadians that are unable to take advantage of this new opportunity.

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:

  • Parents who agree to share parental leave are allotted an additional five weeks from the Standard Parental Leave of 35 weeks. This brings the total to 40 weeks of Standard Parental Leave, at 55% of average weekly earnings.
  • Each parent must take a minimum of five weeks leave to qualify.
  • The Extended Parental Leave is available to fathers, same-sex parents, and secondary or adoptive parents.
  • The goal is to hopefully allow women to return to work sooner, if they wish, while a partner or even grandparent takes on the childcare responsibilities.
  • The new Shared Parental Leave will be implemented in June 2019.

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.




RELATED: Canada's 18 Month Parental Leave Will Only Benefit Rich Parents

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based out of Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe & Mail. 

Brianna's budget-savvy ways has attracted media attention, and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe & Mail and The Guelph Mercury. In April 2016 Brianna will be featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less, alongside co-writer Brooke Burke. You can find Brianna's website at Brianna Bell Writes.