Wishing you health, happiness and harmony!

As we prepare for 2018 and reflect on this year’s accomplishments, we have plenty to celebrate. We invite you to learn more about our activities this past year and what makes our approach to enhancing the national understanding of families in Canada unique.

As you can see, there has been much cause for pride and joy during Canada’s 150th anniversary, and there is a lot to look forward to next year.

With all of our achievements, we feel that the greatest reason for celebration is our relationships. We couldn’t be more grateful to be surrounded by people who share our passion and enthusiasm. The connections we have created and strengthened over the past year are the key to our success.

We would like to pause for a moment to thank our friends, colleagues, supporters and partners for contributing to the fantastic year we’ve had – we look forward to many more.

The Vanier Institute team wishes you and your family health, happiness and harmony this holiday season and into the new year.

Our office will be closed from December 22 to January 2 (inclusive) while we spend time with our families.

Changes to Employment Insurance Program Coming in December 2017

The Government of Canada announced today that pending changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program will come into effect on December 3, 2017, including a new 15-week caregiver benefit; a new benefit that will be accessible to immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill; steps to simplify the process for acquiring medical certificates for the existing and new family caregiving benefits; and changes to parental leave benefits, such as earlier access to maternity leave for expectant new mothers and the option to choose an 18-month parental benefit (extended from 12).

More details about these changes can be found in the media release from the Government of Canada as well as in content published by the Vanier Institute from our November 1, 2017 webinar on EI Special Benefit changes.

Did you know…

  • EI benefits for new parents make up the largest share (over ⅔) of special benefits under the EI program.((Jennifer Robson, “Parental Benefits in Canada,” IRPP Study No. 63 (March 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2mCaCt3.))
  • Each year roughly 170,000 biological mothers, 190,000 biological parents (including mothers) and nearly 1,700 adoptive parents claim EI special benefits.((Robson, 2017.))
  • 87% of insured recent mothers across Canada were receiving maternity/parental benefits in 2015 – a rate that has changed little over the past 5 years.((Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey,” The Daily (November 16, 2016). Link: http://bit.ly/2oTsTPG))
  • 30% of recent fathers across Canada claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits, up from only 3% in 2000.((Statistics Canada, 2016.))
    • However, most of this change was the result of the increase in Quebec, where more generous benefits have been accessible since the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan was introduced in 2006:
      • 86% of recent dads in Quebec claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits in 2015, up from 28% in 2005.
      • 12% of recent dads in the rest of Canada claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits in 2015, up slightly from 11% in 2005.
  • The number of new EI special claims established increased to 550,800 in 2015–2016 (+5.2% since 2014–2015).((Robson, 2017.))
  • In 2015–2016, EI compassionate care benefits reported the largest year-over-year percentage change from 2014–2015, both in new claims established (+26%) and in total amounts paid (+46%).((Robson, 2017.))


Learn more with the following Vanier Institute resources:


Published November 9, 2017

The Vanier Institute Announces New Appointments to Its Board of Directors

The Vanier Institute of the Family is pleased to announce two new appointments to its Board of Directors, Mackenzie Martin and Mark Schaan. David Northcott, Rajesh Uttamchandani and Benjamin Scott will be stepping down from the Board and joining the Vanier Alumni Network. “We’re pleased to welcome these accomplished young leaders to our Board team, both of whom have demonstrated a commitment to understanding families and family life, and to fostering inclusive and supportive communities in Canada,” says Vanier Institute Board Chair Victor Duret.  “Their dedication and fresh perspectives will inform and inspire our work, now and in the years ahead.”

Mackenzie is a researcher working with the AGE-WELL NCE program, where she examines the role of technology in the lives of caregivers and seniors. She has worked with the World Health Organization’s Centre for Health Development in Kobe, Japan, where she studied aging in the global context. Mackenzie is the recipient of numerous recognitions including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Premier’s Citizenship Medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Citizenship Medal, YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award and the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights Youth Champion Award.

Mark is Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Throughout his career, Mark has served as an advisor to a variety of public institutions such as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Industry Canada. An accomplished and recognized leader, Mark has received a number of awards including a Deputy Minister’s Public Service Award for Management Excellence, the Nathalie Des Rosiers Audacity of Imagination Award and the Barnett Prize in Social Policy. Mark is actively involved in the community, with continued engagement with organizations such as the Ten Oaks Project and the Loran Scholars Foundation.

These new additions join Vanier Institute Board Chair Victor Duret, retired KPMG Partner, and Board members Norma Tombari, Senior Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion at RBC; Rina Arseneault, Associate Director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research; Hélène Chalifour Scherrer, consultant and former Federal Cabinet Minister; Bruce Hardy, associate faculty member at City University in Vancouver; Kelly J. Lendsay, president and CEO of Indigenous Works; and Glenn O’Farrell, CEO at Groupe Média TFO.

“We look forward to working with the new Board and are grateful to our outgoing Board members, David, Rajesh and Benjamin, for their devotion over the years,” says Duret. “Their guidance and unique perspectives have strengthened our work, and their impact will be felt for years to come.”

Vanier Institute Board terms are three years in length, renewable once.


Published on October 23, 2017

Lieutenant-Governor Janice Filmon Delivers Opening Remarks for Vanier Community Reception

On Monday, October 16, 2017, Her Honour The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M., Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, welcomed attendees at the Vanier Institute’s annual Community Reception at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Check against delivery

Partners, supporters, leaders and friends of the Vanier Institute of the Family, members of the great extended family of Canadians, it is a pleasure to welcome you to Manitoba and to this very fitting venue for your annual Community Reception.

We are gathered here on Treaty One territory, on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Métis people.

We are meeting near the birthplace of Western Canada, on land where families and communities have gathered for millennia to meet, trade and share stories.

And tonight we are meeting in a museum dedicated to preserving lessons from the past and acting as a beacon for the future.

As we seek to build a better world, there are no more important foundation stones than knowledge and family.

Family is the first institution of health, safety and learning in most of our lives, and it’s one that can provide hope, support and understanding in every stage of life.

But supporting and encouraging families to serve all their members requires understanding of the ever-changing state of the family.

The Vanier Institute of the Family has been bringing together researchers, educators, policy makers, service providers and Canadian families throughout more than 50 years of rapid social, economic and technological change.

Thanks to the research and education efforts of the Vanier Institute, we now know that a family does not have to be composed, as the poet Ogden Nash put it, of children, women, men, an occasional animal and the common cold.

Your success as an institution has been made possible by the commitment and dedication of generations of leaders who have offered their guidance and vision. I’m delighted to be able to join you tonight in honouring the contributions of one such community leader – Manitoba’s own David Northcott, who has completed his second term on your board.

All across Canada, volunteers like David Northcott help our nation to reach its potential. To all of you who donate your time and expertise to improve life for Canadian families, I offer the thanks of a grateful nation.

And to all of those who work for or in partnership with the Vanier Institute of the Family, I wish another successful and productive year.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwich.


Published on October 20, 2017

Drs. Hollihan and Martin receive Mirabelli-Glossop Award for Work in Support of Military and Veteran Families

The Vanier Institute of the Family and the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) are proud to announce that Dr. Kim Hollihan, Deputy CEO of CCPA, and Dr. Lorna Martin, President Emerita of CCPA, have received the Vanier Institute’s 2017 Mirabelli-Glossop Award for outstanding leadership in the development of School Counsellors Working with Military and Veteran Families, a resource that provides information on the important roles and unique lifestyles of military and Veteran families that enrich schools, communities and workplaces.

The Vanier Institute focuses its work on understanding how families interact, and how they are affected by social, economic, environmental and cultural forces. The Mirabelli-Glossop Award recognizes excellence in advancing the national understanding of families in Canada.

“Dr. Hollihan and Dr. Martin were integral to the development and promotion of this important resource,” says the Vanier Institute’s CEO, Nora Spinks. “In addition to building military literacy, this resource offers clear recommendations counsellors can take to ensure all students benefit from the rich experiences of children in military and Veteran families. The resource also ensures that counsellors can draw on these recommendations to address some of the challenges that confront students from military and Veteran families as they move across educational jurisdictions and experience diverse social environments.”

School Counsellors Working with Military and Veteran Families was written and produced in partnership with the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle. The resource aims to assist school personnel in increasing their military literacy, and enabling increased support and inclusion of children and youth of military and Veteran families in the social, academic and athletic lives of schools across Canada. The resource, available in English and French, has been shared with provincial and territorial Ministries/Departments of Education for dissemination to schools in communities from coast to coast to coast.

“We are extremely proud that our organization has been recognized for its work in putting together what we hope is one of the most comprehensive resources on how school counsellors can assist children and families who have a parent who is a Veteran or who actively serves in the military,” says Barbara MacCallum, CEO of CCPA. “It is essential that the mental wellness of military families be prioritized, and this resource and its use in schools across Canada is a very positive step forward.”


For further information, please contact:

Nora Spinks, CEO, The Vanier Institute of the Family
Telephone: 613-724-8500 or 613-228-8500, ext. 214
Email: ceo@vanierinstitute.ca


Published on October 16, 2017