Employment Insurance Benefits Must Be Expanded to Kinship and Customary Care

Customary and kinship care are traditional forms of Indigenous parenting based on connectedness between a child, their caregivers, and their community. Under kinship care, a child requiring out-of-home care is placed based on family connection or another significant relationship to the child such as family, friendship, or community membership. Under customary care, the child is often placed in their community and/or with a family member to ensure they are able to grow in such a way that incorporates their own customs and traditions.

I was happy to support a recent bill to give adoptive and intended parents (parents whose child is conceived through surrogacy) 15 additional weeks of parental leave benefits through Canada’s Employment Insurance, allowing them the same time to bond with their child as parents who give birth. However, in order for the bill to be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, under which all new Canadian legislation must be compliant, I introduced four amendments to uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples to make decisions about matters impacting their own children. This would provide the same Employment Insurance benefits for kinship and customary care arrangements as for parents who have given birth, adopted, or welcomed their child through surrogacy.

Unfortunately, the Liberal Party is now trying to prevent these critical amendments before the bill is passed. By blocking Bill C-318 as amended, the Liberals are once again demonstrating their failure to meet their words on reconciliation with real action. No matter how a child is brought into a family, adequate time and resources are needed to build attachment between parents and their children.

You can watch my interventions on this bill, in committee and the House of Commons, here:




Leah Gazan
(204) 984-1675

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