Mother’s Day is just around the corner, a time when Canadians of all ages recognize and honour mothers, grandmothers and, increasingly, great-grandmothers. As women across Canada – including new and expectant mothers – continue to increase their presence in the workforce, families, communities and policy-makers are adapting and reacting to provide flexibility for working moms.
Flexible workplaces helping working moms manage caregiving responsibilities
New and expectant mothers in Canada are increasingly engaged in the workforce, many of whom also provide care to ill and injured family members. Research shows that workplace flexibility is helping moms manage their multiple responsibilities, which in turn can have a positive impact on family well-being.
- In 2016, the labour force participation rate of mothers whose youngest child was under age 6 was 73%, more than double the rate in 1976 (36%).1
- In 2012, 72% of surveyed women said they were satisfied with their work–life balance – the rate was significantly higher for those with a flexible schedule (75%) than for those without a flexible schedule (63%).2
- In 2012, 3 in 10 women were caregivers, 1 in 6 of whom spent 20 or more hours per week providing care.3
- In 2012, 63% of working mothers who were also caregivers said they were satisfied with their work–life balance (compared with 73% among fathers).4
New benefit options providing flexibility to new and expectant working mothers
A number of changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits5 program went into effect December 3, 2017, providing more flexibility to working mothers (and fathers) through more options regarding the timing and duration of the benefit period.6
- Parents can now choose an extended parental benefits option, which allows them to receive their EI parental benefits over a period of up to 18 months at a benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings. This extends the duration of the benefit period but decreases the benefit rate, which stand at 12 months and 55% of average weekly earnings, respectively.7
- Expectant mothers are also now able to file for benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date – four weeks earlier than the previous eight-week limit (no additional weeks are available).
- Canadian Institute of Child Health, “Module 8, Section 2: Labour Force Participation Rate,” The Health of Canada’s Children and Youth: A CICH Profile (2018). Link: http://bit.ly/2oq4xyZ.
- Statistics Canada, “Satisfaction with Work–Life Balance: Fact Sheet,” Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 89-652-X (page last updated August 12, 2016). Link: http://bit.ly/1S7H2nb.
- Maire Sinha, “Portrait of Caregivers, 2012,” Spotlight on Canadians: Results from the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 89-652-X (page last updated November 30, 2015). Link: http://bit.ly/1jxgAAm.
- According to Statistics Canada, this is in part because “women are more likely than men to provide care to a family member or friend suffering from a long-term health condition. In addition, those caregivers provide more hours of care on average.” Link: https://bit.ly/1S7H2nb.
- These changes do not apply in Quebec, which has followed the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) since 2006.
- Qualifying standards remain in place: workers require 600 hours of paid employment in the previous year to be eligible, and benefits are generally paid at 55% of average weekly earnings, up to a cap. As of January 1, 2018, the maximum yearly insurable earnings is $51,700 (a maximum amount of $547 per week). Link: https://bit.ly/2IMJv5g.
- The potential overall benefit hasn’t changed: they either can be used up over 12 months or the same amount of money can be stretched out over 18 months. Parents must choose between the standard or extended option when they first apply for EI benefits, and are “locked in” once they do so.