I remember clearly when my wife told me that she was pregnant with our first. “Holy crap, We’re going to have a baby!!!!” This was followed about 30 seconds later by, “holy crap, we’re going to have a baby.” The difference between the two is in the tone. Excitement and joy for the first, fear and panic in the second.
I bring this up because a little part of me feels that the same fear and panic may be behind the lawsuit that Christian Martin and Paula Critchley are threatening to bring against the federal government should their request for twin parental leave be denied.
In Canada, we have a pretty good batch of parental benefits. We lag behind many European countries, like Sweden, Estonia and Bulgaria, but are far ahead of our American counterparts.
In Canada, birth mother’s get 15 weeks of maternity leave. Then there is an additional 35 weeks of parental leave that can be taken by one parent, or split up by both parents. Both these benefits are paid for by the federal Employment Insurance Program.
But whether you are having 1 kid or 4 kids, the time remains the same at 35 weeks. Christian and Paula are arguing that, since they are having twins, they should be entitled to double that parental leave – 70 weeks. And if you listen to the interviews they have been giving (the audio and video clips are available in Real audio format on the CBC site), I think you can hear the voice of freaked out first time parents going, ‘holy crap, we are having babies! WE NEED HELP!”
Still, the have a point. And you would be hard pressed to find me, a guy who believes parents should be with their kids as much as possible in the early, formative years, arguing that they should not get this. After all, if they had one baby now and a second a year from now, they would still be eligible for 70 weeks of parental benefits. So they happen to use them at the same time. Is there really anything wrong with this?
Economically, we as a country can afford this. Despite the fact that the incidents of multiple births have been on the rise, multiple births still account for only 2% of overall births. The effect this precedent will have on our national bottom line would be negligible.
As well all know, having kids is hard work. The first year with one kid was a haze for me, trying to figure out just how profoundly my life had changed. Yeah, people tell you, but you just don’t realize how much it does change until you are there. So, if bucking up a few thousand dollars is going to mean this family will have a better shot at riding it out, then so be it. I would rather my tax dollars go to this than bailing out failing companies with bad business models who refuse to create products that consumers really want. Oops, sorry…another rant.