No mat leave for adoptive moms

Court says legislation concerns employment, not bonding
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/01/2007

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a British Columbia mother’s claims for maternity benefits when she adopted each of her two children.

Patti Tomasson and her husband adopted infants in 1999 and 2003. Each time, Tomasson applied for 15 weeks of maternity benefits as well as parental benefits, which were 10 weeks in 1999 and increased to 35 weeks by 2003. Both times she was granted parental benefits but denied maternity benefits.

Tomasson complained to the employment insurance commission that the maternity provisions of the Employment Insurance Act gave differential treatment to biological mothers and allowed them more time for bonding and child care than adoptive mothers. She argued this demeans adoptive parents and is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After unsuccessful hearings with the commission and the board of referees, she brought her challenge to the Federal Court of Appeal.