Bill C-464

March 28, 2013

My three days in Ottawa lobbying for Bill C-464:  Parental Leave for Multiple Births or Multiple Adoptions, came to an end today.  While the final result was that we lost this round by only a few votes, the positive side is we have more MPs than ever before understanding the need to address fairness in the design of the Parental Leave Program for future multiple-birth families.  Let’s just say we made our point: to realize the goals of the Parental Leave Program for multiple-birth families, there is a need for extended leave. That extended leave will in fact put multiple-birth families on an equal footing with parents of singletons as it relates to the six pillars of the program.  Yes, I think they’re finally getting the big picture in Ottawa.

While I am disappointed with the outcome, I must say I am also hopeful we will see extended parental benefits for multiple-birth families in the near future.  I am also pleased we have done so much to reach our MPs in the past six months.  I am sure we have more political support for addressing fairness in parental benefits for multiple-birth families now than ever before.

If you took the time to vote on http://democratize.ca/?bill=341 – thank you!  If you took the time to send emails and faxes to MPs – thank you!  We would not be at this point without you.  To Christian Martin and Kim Weatherall who sat by my side this evening as we watched the vote unfold – thank you for doing so much to create awareness on this issue.  To the MBC Board and all our members  – thank you for understanding that together we can make a difference!  Some of you sent me words of encouragement, and I must admit that a few brought tears to my eyes.  I wish we could have won this round for the families who need extended parental leave right now, but I hope you won’t lose faith that someday it will happen.

My family is now 26, 24, 20 and 20.  I know how hard those first two years can be with multiples, but I also know how rewarding it is in future years too.  To my children, who encouraged me, and were just as disappointed at today’s result as I am – thank you!  I am so proud to have the support of such amazing young adults – I am really glad that you guys get it!

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URGENT E-News Multiple Births Canada March 24, 2013

March 27th is fast approaching.  I wonder how many future multiple-birth families are aware something special might happen on that date?  Then again, I wonder how many Members of Parliament in Ottawa have read this document? - http://multiplebirthscanada.org/mbc_documents/EI_Parental_Leave_Position_Paper-MAR0613.pdf
On March 27th our federal MPs will vote in the House of Commons on Bill C-464: Parental Leave for Multiple Births or Multiple Adoptions.  If the MPs vote yes, the positive outcome for multiple-birth infants and their working parents will be tremendous.  That first year of life will be more like the other 97% of infants that are born as singletons.  The fundamental principles of the Parental Leave Benefits program will finally put Canada’s multiple-birth families on equal footing with the rest of Canadians.

There’s a problem though.  The Conservative Party of Canada have decided they want to say no to this Bill.  They say they need to be fiscally responsible.  To me this sounds like a convenient excuse when many federal dollars are being used for less essential reasons.  Saying yes to Bill C-464 will allow the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada) caucus to do two things – adhere to the fundamental principles of the EI program (97% qualified EI recipients having two babies already get two x 35 week Parental Leave Benefits) AND it will allow the CPCs to live up to their “family values” principles.  They talk the talk, it would be fantastic if they would walk the walk.


I’m going to try to help them.  Next week, I’m taking our message beyond the steps of Parliament Hill.  I’m going inside to meet with some MPs before the vote.  At this point I only have three confirmed meetings – but, I’m hoping to hear from a few more – like the Honourable Diane Finley.  You would think as the Minister responsible for the Employment Insurance program she would offer 10 minutes of her time to talk to Multiple Births Canada about the importance of this Bill C-464 for Canada’s multiple-birth families.  At this point the answer has been no, maybe a few more faxes to her office will change her mind?  Telephone: 613-996-4974, Fax 613-996-9749, E-Mail: diane.finley@parl.gc.ca

Here’s the message:
Gail Moore, Advocacy and Awareness Coordinator for Multiple Births Canada will be in Ottawa March 25-26-27 for the sole purpose of addressing Bill C-464.  I would greatly appreciate it if the Honourable Diane Finley  would meet with Gail for 10 minutes to discuss why we need CPC members to vote yes on March 27th.  A yes vote proves the CPC understands how important this is to future of our families.  A yes vote addresses the need for fairness in family values for multiple-birth families.                   Signed by you, date, and location

While you’re at it – could you please send a similar message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper?  Here’s his contact information - Telephone: 613-992-4211, Fax: 613-941-6900, E-Mail: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
Thank you.

By the way, if you get a chance to talk to your local MP, here’s a bit of information that may help to explain why this is so important to us.  Parental Leave Benefits do not address the extra needs of newborn multiples and their parents on three key Parental Leave pillars – promoting child development, balancing the demands of work and very young children, and allowing businesses to retain valuable, experienced employees.  For the sake of our families – this must change. 

- Child development takes longer when there are multiple-birth infants to care for because a parent can only interact with one child at a time; as well multiples are much more likely to be born small; only 6.3% of singleton babies are born at less than 5.5 pounds (2,500g), compared to 56.6% of twins and 94.1% of triplets.   The additional care and extra time needed to bring multiple-birth infants to the same stage of development as singletons should be reflected in the number of weeks allotted to Parental Leave Benefits for multiple-birth parents.

- Balancing demands of work and very young children; is not the same for parents of a newborn as compared to parents of multiple newborns.  Sleep deprivation can be double or more, making it extremely difficult for multiple birth parents to return to work at the same productivity levels as parents of singletons.

- Allowing businesses to retain valuable, experienced employees is impeded by the extreme demands of caring for their multiple-birth infants during the first 18 months.  Many of these employees are forced to quit their jobs because they cannot find affordable daycare or they cannot find daycare spaces for more than one infant at a time.  In addition, extreme sleep deprivation affects the employees’ job security and mental health.

I hope you’re able to watch the vote on television.  It’s on CPAC on Wednesday evening.  There’ll be more than 20 votes that evening, so I’m not sure when Bill C-464 will be on the agenda, but it would be nice to know some of you are watching between all the other things you do as parents of multiples.  Your support does make a difference!

 

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February 19, 2013

This past week my volunteer hours went towards creating an integral piece of information for our Members of Parliament.  As I listened to the first hour of the 2nd reading of Bill C-464: Parental Leave for Multiple Births or Multiple Adoptions – I realized we needed to help these men and women in Ottawa understand not just how important this Bill is to Canada’s multiple-birth community but also why, as politicians, they should be voting YES to this Bill.

It became a weekend project that turned into a weeklong project, with many eyes reviewing and commenting along the way.  The result was a seven page document that begins with how Bill C-464 will have positive impacts for EI claimants their multiple-birth infants and their employers.  It continues with three main position points:

- Canada’s current method for allocating Employment Insurance Parental Leave benefits for multiple births and multiple adoptions discredits the primary reason why EI claimants began receiving 35 weeks over a decade ago – to provide them with sufficient time and financial support to adequately care for and bond with their babies.  In the multiple-birth world we know that doesn’t happen as quickly for multiple-birth infants as it does for babies born one at a time.

- Bill C-464 will not compromise the ideals of the Employment Insurance program.  In fact, just a couple of years ago the government passed another important legislation – Bill C-13 giving military families the unique ability to interrupt their leave to go back to duty, then resume their leave when they get back.  In congratulating themselves for agreeing to this amendment to the Employment Insurance Parental Benefit Program (PBP) they said – this improvement “Recognizes the importance of parent-child bonding in establishing a foundation for subsequent growth and development.” http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/ - and, that my friends is exactly the point of Bill C-464.

- The additional costs for Bill C-464 will be about $26.5 million per year. MBC believes this is how much the government of Canada has been saving since 2000 when the current PBP was introduced.  Not all families will NEED the extra 35 weeks because they are fortunate enough to have extended family living nearby, or healthy babies that don’t require ongoing medical treatments, or quality daycare access that lets parents return to work knowing their babies are in good hands.  BUT, for those who need it – they should know they can do what’s right for their babies and not have to worry about losing their jobs while they’re on Parental Leave.

We need everyone who understands the importance of extended Parental Leave for future multiple-birth families to get involved.  Please download the MBC Position Paper and share it with your Member of Parliament as soon as possible. To identify the MP for your area, click on this link - www.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx

If you can, visit his/her riding office to deliver the seven page document. If you cannot hand deliver it, please mail it to the MPs Ottawa office. If your MP is a Conservative, we encourage you to ALSO call his/her office - identify yourself as a constituent of the riding, and stress that as a multiple-birth family living in the MPs riding you would like to encourage him/her to vote YES to Bill C-464.

BTW, if you’d like to give us a few hours – I could really use a partner on a connecting task to this outreach – sharing our Position Paper with family-orientated organizations.  If you have a couple of hours to spare, please contact me at Gail.Moore@multiplebirthscanada.org.

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February 10, 2013

Before you read this blog – let me introduce myself as it relates to the recent (January 24, 2013) Federal Court of Appeal decision on the Christian Martin and the Attorney General of Canada case.

My name is Gail Moore, and I’ve been coordinating Canada’s annual National Multiple Births Awareness Day since its inception in 2005.  For details – click here. Our themes over the years have been varied – but, the ones that draw the most public response are the ones focusing on EI Parental Leave for multiple-birth families.  I’ve become accustomed to some off the hurtful comments I’ve seen posted on media websites, to the point where I can almost ignore them.  Almost, except then I remember there are many new parents of multiples who need to know there are others out there who understand.

First, let me say that I’m bewildered by the justifications made in the 54 page decision by the federal justices.  There are two qualified claimants and two newborns needing parental care – but because the claimants happen to be married to each other one of them cannot access his/her earned EI Parental Benefits for those overwhelming 35 weeks when both should be home to ensure a “best start” for the infants.  This is no different than if both spouses had mothers diagnosed with a terminal illness at the same time and both wanted to be there for their respective mothers.  Would each be granted Compassionate Care?  Of course they would. 

Now, to the hundreds of online comments, let me add that I’m amazed by the number of people who don’t realize that Parental Leave is not a social program.  They say things like “taxpayers money” – when nothing could be further from the truth.  Parental Leave is a benefit given to qualified recipients of the Employment INSURANCE program.  If you haven’t paid into it – you can’t claim it.  The same way as you can’t put in a claim for your wrecked car if you don’t have car insurance. 

I’m also disappointed by people who have the urge to comment on something they don’t understand.  The ones who think Christian Martin is drawing attention to a flaw in EI Parental Benefits allocations to multiple-birth families because he is motivated by money.  They don’t get that Christian’s actions are motivated by a desire to provide newborn multiples with parental care that is equal to what singleton babies receive during those important first 35 weeks.  He’s not doing this for his daughters; he’s putting himself out there for public ridicule so that future multiple-birth parents and their newborn infants will be treated fairly.  

I’ve long known that accusations come from within.  So, when I see someone post that Christian’s actions are motivated by money – I get that this opinion comes from their own value system.  I just wish they could see that themselves.  How could both parents being off work at the same time, both getting 55% of their wages – that’s a 45% cut in finances people – be about a money grab?  Really?  If it was about money they’d want to stay at work and get 100% of their wages.  No folks – it’s about doing the best thing for the babies – that’s why we have Parental Benefits in Canada.  Shift your focus: the fact multiple-birth parents have not received the same benefits as parents who have their babies one at a time means we’ve been saving the EI program money for years. 
I’m blown away by the number of people who bring up the “good old days’ – the 1950’s when mothers stayed at home and raised the kids while fathers went to work – or, the 1980’s when we (yes me too) didn’t get half the parental benefits new parents get today.  Back in the 50s other mothers were in a position to be able to support the mothers of newborns by giving their time to help – most women have to work now to help make ends meet so that isn’t an option anymore.  In the 80s church groups and other service clubs tried to fill the gap by sending volunteers to help that first year – but volunteerism is on the decline so that’s a more difficult option to access.  A lot of people today don’t even know the names of their neighbours, let alone depend on them in their time of need – and, most families are not fortunate enough to have their extended families living nearby.  This is one concrete way we can all help – yet, many are not happy to do it because they selfishly ask “what’s in for me?”    
The United States may not get how important Parental Leave is for the well-being of their future taxpayers – but at least 163 other countries get it.  Some already have provisions for multiple pregnancies – unfortunately, Canada does not.  Sadly, it appears that drawing attention to an identified flaw in the rules – or in the Martin case in the wording of the rules – seems to brand you negatively.  I guess this is how women felt in the 1920s when they said they wanted the right to vote.  To most multiple-birth families, proper allocation of Parental Benefits just makes sense, but unfortunately, until the naysayers are actually part of the multiple-birth community they just won’t understand.  I thought Canadians were better than that.  In fact, I know they are.

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Posted Dec 7th 2012 .... by Gail Moore

I’ve learned something since joining the MBC Board in 2004 – change takes time.  But, if the goal is change to EI Parental Benefits, I’m okay with that.

Here’s something I already knew – it takes a village.  It started with the surviving Dionne quintuplets supporting our 2005 National Multiple Births Awareness Day theme - A call to dialogue regarding the current provisions for maternity, parental and compassionate care leave under the federal Employment Insurance Program.  It grew with your support. 


It began to blossom in September 2009, when Christian Martin won his challenge with the EI Board of Referees and was awarded a second set of parental benefits to provide care for his other twin daughter. (The government appealed, and the case continues before the courts.)  And, it continued to grab the attention of policy makers in Ottawa with each family who thereafter challenged the status quo of the Canadian government only allowing one parental leave for parents of infants born from a multiple pregnancy.


MBC again brought attention to the inequality in how parental leave is assessed for multiple-birth families with our 2010 National Multiple Births Awareness Day theme - Canada's EI Parental Leave must reflect the needs of multiple-birth infants.


The latest movement came this fall when MBC was contacted by the office of Sana Hassainia, Member of Parliament for Verchères—Les Patriotes with the news that she was introducing a Private Member's Bill on November 7th in the House of Commons of Canada.  Bill C-464 seeks to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act to increase the maximum number of weeks during which parental benefits can be paid, from 35 weeks to 70 weeks in the case of multiple births or multiple adoptions for qualified EI recipients.     


It will be debated at second reading in the House of Commons on Monday, February 4th, 2013.


It’s an important time for Canada’s multiple-birth community, and while we may never personally benefit from changes to Parental Benefits it is certainly satisfying to know that someday others may thank us for drawing attention to a situation that is not fair and equal.  Other families get two parental leaves when they have two babies in different years – time to bond with each infant and give their babies a good start on life – time to recharge and prepare themselves to return to work as productive employees – why should multiple-birth parents be treated differently?


What can you do to draw more attention to this movement toward change?  Download this petition and circulate it, English or French.  As you complete each page please mail it to MP Sana Hassainia’s office.  The more signatures and the more pages you send before January 31st the louder our voice becomes.  It’s our time to speak up and be heard.  Go for it!

For more detail please feel free to review previous articles and information here, Media

Posted by Gail Moore on March 23, 2013

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