Issue Statement: August 29, 2016
Engineers Canada believes that a national dialogue on modernizing maternity and parental leave is crucial to ensuring that the best support is provided to all Canadians. The current system is seen as one of the contributing factors to the attrition of women in professional roles, and specifically for women in the engineering profession.
The time is now to convene a national dialogue to modernize maternity and parental leave, given Status of Women Canada’s return to a more prominent advocacy role. Other recent relevant developments include the tabling of Bill C-243, an Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy and amending the Employment Insurance Act (maternity benefits), as well as the report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. The report recommends the holding of consultations with relevant stakeholders to determine whether all special benefits should remain part of the Employment Insurance program or be administered separately.
- Currently, 12.8 per cent of the engineering workforce across the country is comprised of women; retaining women and increasing this number to ensure that the profession reflects the demographics of Canadian communities remains a key priority for the 12 provincial and territorial engineering regulators.
- Feedback from engineering regulators indicate that the current maternity and parental leave system is designed for individuals who are unemployed and is generally inflexible to the reality of professionals who are leave for other reasons; that the current system jeopardizes an employer’s investment in training and an employee’s personal investment in professional and client development; and that the current system does not allow for a parent on leave to respond to questions and issues (i.e. do work) that from a business and project standpoint is necessary.
- Engineers Canada proposes the starting point for a national conversation on maternity and parental leave be a public consultation with relevant stakeholders to properly understand the realities facing professionals who take employment leaves. This would better inform the government on how best to structure and administer the employment leave benefit programs and will allow the federal government to make a well-informed decision on whether maternity and parental leave actually belong within the Employment Insurance program.
- Engineers Canada will continue to engage with the federal government on this issue and looks forward to participating in the process and providing objective and evidence-based input that best serves the public interest.