Five to eight weeks of additional parental leave officially became reality for families across the country Sunday.
Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, made the announcement Friday during a news conference in Burlington, Ont.
The changes increase standard parental benefits from 61 weeks to as long as 69 weeks for parents of newborns or newly adopted children who decide to both take leave from work to handle child care duties.
The increase allows for each parent to be eligible for up to 40 weeks, compared to 35 weeks, depending on how the time is split up.
The new parental sharing benefit, also known as the “use it or lose it” leave, was announced in 2018 to encourage more parents to share the work of raising their children more equally. If parents do not split the time off to care for a new child, they do not qualify for the extra weeks.
In late 2017, the government introduced an extended 18-month option for parental leave, in addition to the traditional 12-month leave.
Woman represented 85 per cent of all parental benefit claims made in 2016 to 17, according to the federal government. An estimated 97,000 Canadian families are expected to claim the new benefit each year.
“This new measure will help us break down barriers to gender equality by shifting cultural attitudes against men taking parental leave, and will help Canadians spend more time with their families,” Duclos said in a news release.