Should Multiple Births Mean Multiple Parental Leaves?

In most countries, if you have a child, you’re entitled to parental leave.

If you have twins, are you entitled to two leaves?

That’s the premise behind a lawsuit filed by two Ottawa parents, Christian Martin and Paula Critchley. The couple had twins in April of 2009. Under Canadian Employment Insurance law, parents are able to split up to 35 weeks of paid parental leave. Martin and Critchley, however, felt that both parents should be eligble for the full 35 weeks because there were two children who required care.

Martin initially applied for benefits and was denied, on the basis that Critchley was already collecting benefits. In an appeal, Martin stated that because the twins were born prematurely and required an increased level of care, and because the twins were born of a single pregnancy, both parents should be eligible for parental benefits in order to care for the children. In September of 2009, the Employment Insurance Board of Referees ruled that both Martin and Critchley could collect parental benefits for the full 35 weeks, since one parent filed for leave on behalf of one child and the other parent for the other. The decision of the board did not change the law and had no effect on other parents’ claims, although many believed it would have an impact on future cases.

The Federal court overturned that ruling yesterday, stating that allowing both parents to collect full leave benefits would contravene employment insurance rules. Martin and Critchley state they will appeal the ruling.

Canada has one of the most generous maternity/parental leave systems in the world. Mothers are able to take up to 50 weeks of government-paid leave while their jobs remain protected; fathers are able to split up to 35 weeks of that leave with the mother. On one hand, it seems laughably entitled to demand the government pay for leave for a parent to care for a second child in an already generous system. On the other, there is a certain logic to it: if both parents have paid in to the EI system, why is only one parent able to collect leave no matter how many children result from a pregnancy?

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Photo credit: BeautifulFreaks on Flickr


Cheryl W.
Cheryl W6 years ago

Workers these days seem to have such a sense of entitlement. It's not what can I do for you to earn my pay but what are you going to do for me? Plan your life, have kids if/when you can afford it etc., etc. People should be glad they have FMLA to hold a job for twelve weeks. How much more do you expect from employers who have a business to run?

Bernard Cronyn
6 years ago

More important, when will parents in the West and elsewhere in the 21st century start taking responsibility for their own procreation and stop begging from the employer or the taxpayer. If you cannot afford the kids keep your damn legs together!

Jon Hoy
Jonjon Hoy6 years ago

This depends on if your job allows it, your health after having the baby's as well as the baby's health as well. Some women fear the want have a job when the go back to work after having kids. So this is and up and down issue.

Prochi T.
Prochi T6 years ago

no idea, past that time.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush6 years ago

Parental leave should be permitted, but NOT with pay. Vacation time is one option.

We must take responsibility for our actions, and that includes getting pregnant. Having children, should not be automatic or accidental.
Birth control is easily acquired and abortion is there for those who need it.

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 6 years ago

this is ridiculous and not the point of EI, its just another way people are trying to take advantage of the system, and what about single moms who have multiples? and with the increase in fertility treatments this has been and will continue to increase

Diane L.
Diane L6 years ago

Wow, April....."keep your pie hole closed"? That's pretty harsh, and I think out of line. I agree with Nancy. As for these "future workers", they sure are NOT paying my benefits.....the benefits I'm receiving were paid by ME and those in my generation. Nancy's right on.........unless the pregnancy was forced on the woman, it was a personal choice to have the child, and it's not exactly the same as becoming ill from a disease or having an accident, so maybe the parents should be a bit better prepared to care for what they CHOSE to produce. 35 weeks PAID leave? I got 7 days off for a major surgery and could have lost my job if I didn't return. Yes, I got "maternity leave" when I was pregnant, and had to return to work 6 weeks after my son was born.....OR else. I wasn't paid while not working, either. That was a few years ago, but it is a bit unreasonable to expect special privileges for having "elective" procedures, and childbirth usually is just that. Go ahead and start the "flaming" because I disagree.

Myriam G.
Myriam G6 years ago

Dear Laurie D

this parental leave is also available for adopting parents

Myriam G.
Myriam G6 years ago

Dear Nancy Roussy,
there is a Grand Old Party, just south of the border, that seems to push the same agenda as yours.

Shannon M.
Shannon Mckarney6 years ago

@empress ginger - actually, new moms can take a total of 50 paid weeks leave. 15 for maternity leave, 35 for parental leave. The parental leave could also be taken by the other parent, though.