99 per cent of Quebec mothers take maternity leave

Average leave lasts 48 weeks: Statistics Canada

In Quebec, almost all (99 per cent) children aged one to three had a mother who took some form of leave following the birth of their child, according to a Statistics Canada report looking at 2010-11.

On average, this leave lasted 48 weeks. (Quebec has its own parental benefits program — the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan — which differs from the employment insurance program available in other provinces and territories. )

For the rest of Canada, most (90 per cent) children had working mothers who took some type of leave following the birth of their child. On average, the leave lasted 44 weeks, said Leave practices of parents after the birth or adoption of young children.

About one-quarter (26 per cent) of these children had working fathers who took leave; their average leave was 2.4 weeks. For some parents, this was a combination of paid and unpaid leave.

“For the majority of children, differences in fathers’ ability to obtain paid leave appear to influence leave patterns. For example, the average length of paid leave for Quebec fathers was 5.5 weeks, while for non-Quebec resident fathers it was 1.7 weeks,” said authors Leanne Findlay and Dafna Kohen.

Children whose mothers did not report taking any leave (10 per cent of the total) were more likely to be from a lone-parent family, have a mother with less education or have a mother with a lower income compared with children whose mother did take leave

About 83 per cent of children had mothers who reported they took paid leave, and 21 per cent had mothers who reported unpaid leave. The average length of paid leave was 40 weeks, while the average for unpaid leave was 4.5 weeks.

“Mothers who were working full time were more than twice as likely to take paid leave as mothers who were working part time, but equally likely to take unpaid leave. Mothers who worked shifts had lower odds of taking any unpaid leave than those who worked regular hours,” said the report.

In Quebec, about 97 per cent of children had mothers who reported they took paid leave, while 21 per cent reported unpaid leave. Among all children, a slightly higher proportion of those in Quebec (72 per cent) had mothers who worked after the birth or adoption than those in the rest of Canada (67 per cent).

Fathers took leave in the case of about three-quarters (76 per cent) of children in Quebec. Mothers of children living in Quebec took about five weeks more leave than their counterparts elsewhere in Canada, and fathers took about three weeks more than their counterparts.

A number of factors, including socio-economic and child and maternal health characteristics, were associated with whether mothers and fathers took leave and with the length of leave, said the report.

With respect to health characteristics, mothers who reported post-partum depression had higher odds of taking leave. They took significantly longer leave than mothers who did not report postpartum depression.

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