Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Liberals pressed to ease access to EI parental leave to help unemployed moms

Many moms have been unable to work because of pandemic-related job losses

The federal government is being asked to give new and soon-to-be moms a Mothers Day gift by closing a hole in the safety net preventing some from having their maternity leave fully covered.

As is, eligible workers need a minimum number of hours on the job to qualify for employment insurance benefits, including maternity and parental leave.

But many moms have been unable to work because of pandemic-related job losses, and been caught by the EI safety net.

When a new mother receiving regular benefits gives birth, they have to file a new claim for maternity and parental benefits, meaning they need to meet the hours requirement anew, even though they have been unable to work because of the pandemic.

Opposition critics say they worry new parents might be forced to stay home without income support, or potentially be forced to look for work before they’re ready and able.

The Conservatives are asking the Liberals to allow expecting mothers to qualify for their full employment insurance parental leave, even if they are currently receiving federal unemployment aid.

The call follows a similar request made by the federal New Democrats to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough that said a current workaround to allow unemployed mothers to qualify for EI wasn’t working.

It was just ahead of Mothers Day last year that the Liberals dealt with another unexpected flaw in the pandemic safety net where women who identified as pregnant on their EI applications weren’t automatically moved over to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Since the EI system kicked back up in late September, just over 298,000 parents have received maternity and parental leave benefits for a combined value of nearly $2.7 billion, according to the latest federal data.

A handful of mothers-to-be worried they won’t be able to qualify for their full benefits told Conservative critic Raquel Dancho their stories during a virtual roundtable on Thursday morning.

Some spoke about not knowing how they would pay the bills, expressed frustrations at ongoing parental leave issues, and highlighted how they’re now scrambling to make the hours hoping that they can work enough.

“These are real situations with women and and men … trying to figure out how to do this at a very uncertain time,” Dancho said at the end of the roundtable.

“It’s an overwhelming time as it is, let alone now, and I think a lot of you really nailed it when you said, you know, parents have dealt with so much this year and now this is just one more thing and deeply unfair.”

Federal officials had come up with a workaround to the hours issue, giving a blanket, one-time credit to applicants who weren’t able to work because of the pandemic and needed federal aid.

In a recent letter to Qualtrough, NDP critic Daniel Blaikie noted some expectant mothers had the credit applied to their EI claims even though they had enough hours, which then made it impossible for them to have enough hours to access their maternity leave once their baby comes.

He suggested the government consider giving expecting parents an option to set aside their one-time credit of insurable hours to use instead for qualifying for maternity and parental leave.

“There must be a way to solve this problem and allow mothers whose work has been disrupted by the pandemic to access maternity benefits during these trying times,” Blaikie wrote in the April letter.

“If it requires a legislative response, I would welcome a conversation with you about how we can make that happen quickly. If not, I urge you to act without delay and look forward to hearing your plan for action promptly.”

READ MORE: Trudeau Liberals got earful on police racism from concerned public, emails reveal

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Liberals

Just Posted

Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend organizer Connie Crocker. (Photo submitted)
Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend online June 19-21

Event’s been in the planning stages since February without knowing COVID implications

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

The BC Ferries’ website is down for the second time in one week from what they say is likely an overwhelming increase in web traffic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Surging web traffic crashes BC Ferries’ site again

Website down for second time this week

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
PODCAST: John Furlong lays out a ‘provincial’ B.C. plan to host the 2030 Winter Olympics

Podcast: Chat includes potential role for Vancouver Island communities

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Lake Country firefighters made good use of pet respirators they keep on board June 17, 2021. (District of Lake Country)
PHOTOS: 11 dogs rescued, home destroyed in large blaze in Okanagan

Home deemed a total loss, cause remains unknown but crews thankful for pet respirators

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Most Read