An Appeal For Action To Protect Maternity And Parental Leaves

Monday, July 26 2010

An Appeal For Action To Protect Maternity And Parental Leaves

The following Appeal was drafted by a few women who see an urgent need to react to protect maternity and parental leave benefits in Canada.

On January 27, 2004, a unanimous decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal found that the sections of the federal Employment Insurance Act that provide maternity and parental leave benefits are outside the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal government has 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court and has not yet decided to appeal.

The Quebec court opinion is advisory and does not strike down the provisions of the federal law. However, such opinions by the courts have tremendous legal legitimacy and political significance. A failure to appeal the decision could imply acceptance of this interpretation. If left unchallenged, the decision could be used to limit further the federal role in social policy and justify inaction around measures to advance women's equality.

This ruling is seen by women in Quebec as having positive implications for them. They are counting on their government to provide superior maternity and parental benefits to those offered under the EI program. We recognize that, Quebec is entitled to a different relationship with the federal government. However, we believe that this distinctiveness can and must be recognized -- in maternity and parental benefits as in other areas -- in ways that do not weaken the capacity of the federal government to address women's social inequality in the rest of the country.''

Contact Prime Minister Paul Martin, key members of his Cabinet and your MP.

The Right Hon. Paul Martin,
Telephone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900

The Hon. Jean Augustine
Minister of State (Multiculturalism and Status of Women)
Telephone: (613) 995-9364
Fax: (613) 992-5880

The Hon. Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Telephone: (613) 995-0121
Fax: (613) 992-6762

The Hon. Liza Frulla
Minister of Social Development
Telephone: (613) 995-6403
Fax: (613) 995-6404

The Hon. Joseph Volpe
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
Telephone: (613) 992-6361
Fax: (613) 992-9791

The Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew
Minister of Health, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Telephone: (613) 995-8872
Fax: (613) 995-9926

The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett
Minister of State (Public Health)
Telephone: (613) 995-9666
Fax: (613) 947-4622

The Hon. John Godfrey
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with special responsibility for Cities
Telephone: (613) 992-2855
Fax: (613) 995-1635

Members of Parliament:

You may also wish to urge the federal government to raise maternity and parental benefits through EI to make them parallel to those offered Quebec parents under the 2001 Quebec Parental Insurance legislation. This would involve:

A network on Women's Economic and Social Rights is being formed to monitor this issue and to ensure that women's equality is put back on the Canadian political agenda :


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