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Justin Trudeau Says Canada Could Soon Have Parental Leave for Both Parents

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested this week that a national “use-it-or-lose-it” funded parental leave may be coming to Canada that would allow a second parent to take leave.  

The government is considering options for a parental leave that can be taken by a second parent, be it a new dad or partners in LGBTQ marriages, the prime minister said while speaking at a forum at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India on Monday.

Trudeau said that making it easier for a second parent to take time off after a baby is born would limit the obstacles women face at work in relation to having children, like being passed over for a job promotion because managers fear they will be more invested in family, for example.

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“Women have an expectation laid on them that they will be much more involved in raising kids,” he said. “That challenge… will lead to different decisions by a manager or by whoever is doing the hiring, which is one of the reasons why, yes, we’re moving forward on pay equity legislation, but we’re also looking at other things.”

This funded leave would be available only to the second parent, meaning the mother would not be encouraged to take extra time off and would ideally then not be limited in the workforce.

“That path is removing some of the barriers and the obligations and the expectations that hold women back in the workforce,” Trudeau said, according to the Canadian Press.

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Right now, the only province in Canada with funded leave for new dads is Quebec. Quebec’s policy allows new fathers up to five weeks leave at 70% of their income.

In 2016, 30% of new fathers reported they took or intended to take parental leave in Canada, according to a report from the Vanier Institute of the Family. Comparatively, only 3% reported the same in 2000, according to the Canadian Press.

In Quebec alone though, 80% of fathers reported they took a leave or planned to in 2016.

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Trudeau’s government has tried to implement new changes for parental leave, but they’ve been met with some criticism.

In Canada, new parents are allocated 12 months of employment insurance benefits, which they can now spread across 18 months, thanks to new rules set in place by the Liberals.

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