Critics warn Liberal parental leave proposal flawed

Liberal plan to extend parental leave to 18 months won’t help most parents, say critics

OTTAWA – Child care and labour organizations want the federal Liberals to scrap a proposal to extend parental leave to 18 months, fearing it wouldn’t help many parents and would be problematic for employers.

The concerns are similar to those expressed recently by small business owners, leaving the government facing criticism from all sides as it looks to follow through on an election promise.

The Liberals have proposed extending parental leave to 18 months from its current 12 months, allowing new parents to work periodically during that longer time frame – but without any increase in benefits.

Instead, some 25 groups – child care, poverty advocates and labour organizations – want more benefits for new parents, dedicated time off for fathers and a lower benchmark for new mothers to qualify for maternity leave.

The proposed Liberal plan is designed to allow new parents to spread 12 months worth of benefits over a longer period.

However, Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says any increase in benefits paid out to new parents would require an increase in employment insurance premiums.

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