It's time for the thousands of children in Canada who are without parental care, and for whom reunification with a birth parent is unlikely or impossible, to have the opportunity to attach to someone who will be their adoptive parent or their customary or kin caregiver. Such an attachment may also take time, however, that is not available to these families, because of the way Canada's parental benefits system is currently structured. Notably, this system does not allow them the same amount of paid parental leave as it does biological families (if it allows them any such leave at all). 

Researchers at Western University recently joined with A4L: Ontario's Adoptive Parents Association and the Adoption Council of Canada (ACC) to raise awareness about the need to improve parental leave benefits for people who provide permanency to children (i.e., adoptive parents, kin caregivers, and customary caregivers). We travelled to Ottawa twice—in November 2018 and in April 2019—to meet with MPs and their policy advisors about this matter.

Those of us from Western have also been hard at work in producing a report for our partners and for people on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. We argue in the report that Canada’s parental leave benefits system is neither fair to, nor sufficient to meet the needs of, the families mentioned above. We recommend that the government add a new category of EI benefits: ‘attachment benefits’ for adoptive parents, and for permanent kin and customary caregivers.

This research was funded through an open research grant provided by the Social Science and Humanities Review Board (SSHRB) at Western University. We also received support from the Conference Board of Canada.

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