Parental Leave and Intra-Regime Differences in a Liberal Country: The Case of Four Canadian Provinces

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:45
Oral Presentation
Sophie MATHIEU, Brock University, Canada
Lindsey MCKAY, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, Canada
Andrea DOUCET, Brock University, Canada
This paper compares access to parental leave benefits in the four largest Canadian provinces –Québec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia between 2000 and 2014, using quantitative data from the Employment Insurance Coverage Survey. We show patterns of inequality in the nature and the extent to which parents are supported by leave benefits following the birth of a child. Our analysis reveals that, like labour market participation patterns, social class (using family income and educational level as markers of class), gender and province of residence correspond with the level of support parents receive. We argue that Alberta and Québec represent two regimes of parental benefits. In Alberta the take-up of maternity leave is low, and is closely related to income and educational level. In addition, very few fathers use parental leave. Conversely, the vast majority of mothers and fathers have access to parental benefits in Québec. We argue that Alberta is closer to a liberal regime of parental benefits, while Québec is closer to a social-democratic model. In the discussion we address how leave benefits replicate class, gender, and geographic inequality, and structure family care options.