Progressive, pro-family, pro-growth
A good parental leave system makes children more affordable, and improves gender equity in the labour force and at home.
In Quebec, parental leave innovations include time reserved solely for the father, higher replacement rates, and flexibility. This has dramatically increased the number of fathers taking parental leaves, which in turn has a long-term impact on the distribution of labour within the home. (It may also have contributed to Quebec’s shrinking pay gap – which is happening at a time when the gender pay gap in the rest of Canada is stagnating.)
While it is clear that “use-it-or-lose-it” parental leave for fathers will nudge more of them to take leave, research shows that higher replacement rates make a difference as well.
A Statistics Canada review of European parental leave programs shows that take-up rates for parental leaves are lower where replacement rates are low.
“since men, on average, earn more than women, families may be dissuaded from having the father claim parental leave because of the greater financial burden (Moss and O’Brien 2006).”
This is why I was so excited to see the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP propose Â a substantial top-up to parental leave (from 55% to 80%), paid from provincial coffers. The province is facing a declining birthrate, and has been hard-hit by the falling price of oil.
This is exactly the kind of policy that supports families in their choices, but works against the structural economic forces that disadvantage women. Bravo, NL NDP for a well-designed, feminist & progressive policy.
Let’s hope other provinces are paying attention.