More working fathers in Quebec have been taking paid parental leave since the province introduced the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) in 2006, according to Statistics Canada.
Fathers' Use of Paid Parental Leave
, found 56 per cent of men eligible for the QPIP claimed benefits in 2006, up from 32 per cent in 2005. The participation rate for fathers in the federal parental program outside Quebec remained steady at about 11 per cent.
QPIP has higher benefit rates than the federal Parental Benefits Program, a five-week non-transferable leave for fathers and no unpaid waiting period (the federal program has a two-week unpaid waiting period for co-sharing parents).
Before 2006 all provinces had the same parental leave benefit program, but Quebec always had a consistently higher proportion of fathers claiming benefits.
The federal program has been improved over the past few years. In 2001, the program increased the length of shareable paid parental leave benefits from 10 weeks to 35 weeks and eliminated the second two-week unpaid waiting period for co-sharing parents.
After these changes, the proportion of fathers participating in the program rose from three per cent in 2000 to 10 per cent in 2001.
Many factors influence a father's decision to use parental leave. Fathers were 2.5 times more likely to claim benefits if they had a co-claiming spouse who earned the same or more than if they had a co-claiming spouse who earned less.
Also, fathers outside Quebec were 3.4 times more likely to claim if their spouse did not claim. This suggests that when a family is at risk of not receiving any benefits (which is more often the case outside Quebec), fathers significantly increase their participation rate.
The most common reason for eligible fathers not claiming benefits was family choice (40 per cent), followed by difficulty taking time off work (22 per cent) and financial issues (17 per cent).
Internationally, 13 of 20 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have paid parental leave programs with at least two weeks available to the father. Of these, nine have features to encourage fathers' participation.