Crisis: Pregnant Women Are In Trouble

September 10th, 2021 | FT

There is a silent crisis looming in this country. On September 25, pregnant women who have been unemployed through the pandemic will be required to have reached 600 working hours to qualify for maternity benefits in Canada. Last year, the Trudeau government applied a 480 hour credit for everyone, making it easier for expecting mothers and unemployed Canadians to receive benefits. On September 25, that credit expires, potentially leaving many expecting parents across the country without an income.

In a normal year, more than 350,000 women give birth in Canada. Through the pandemic, many of them have faced perpetual unemployment and struggled to find work. Waitresses and single mothers in the retail and service industries have been hardest hit, as forced closures and the ongoing “fourth wave” continue to make employment prospects more difficult to attain. In many situations, expecting mothers have part-time jobs but are not receiving enough hours.

With their due dates looming, multiple thousands of expecting mothers in Canada will not meet the 600 hours required to receive benefits.

At the time this crisis should have been addressed, Justin Trudeau called an election. The election will happen five days before the credit expires and votes may not be fully counted until the day it does. By then, up to 25,000 women may be facing their due dates and the possibility of not qualifying for maternity benefits. By the time parliament finally resumes, up to 30,000 partially employed and unemployed women could find themselves without maternity benefits. These numbers are only an estimate, but they are based on Canada's average pregnancy rates and current unemployment rates, and the number of women ordinarily employed, during a normal month, in the retail and service industries.

If the crisis is not addressed by December, an additional 8,000 pregnant women in Canada could be facing poverty.

The next government, whether a minority or majority, must make this crisis its top priority. A new emergency bill must be the first order of business, addressing not only the maternity crisis, but the ongoing struggles faced by families across Canada as the fourth wave of restrictions and lock-downs make life more difficult. Until we get through the thick of it, the Canadian government has no choice but to provide relief for expecting mothers and ordinary Canadians.

Call your local candidates and let them know where you stand. Canada's single and expecting mothers need our help, because Justin Trudeau's selfish election has left them behind.

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