May 17, 2016 by Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO
OTTAWA – Canada’s Building Trades Unions & Build Together, Women of the Building Trades are pleased to support Bill C-243, an Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy and amending the Employment Insurance Act (maternity benefits) by MP Mark Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands). We see increasing the agility of maternity benefits for women in the skilled trades as a key piece in a strategy that creates a skilled workforce that reflects the whole of Canada.
Lindsay Amundsen, director of programming and operations for Build Together, noted that, “any workforce that seeks to include women as part of the employable population has to determine how best to manage maternity leave and the needs of families.” She went on to say, “as part of being a society that values diversity and parity, programs that make maternity leave more accessible are one tactic to ensure that women and men have equal opportunities available to them.”
Arlene Dunn, deputy director at Canada’s Building Trades Unions, pointed out that, “pregnant women in the skilled trades require the option and flexibility on when to begin their maternity benefits in circumstances where the health of the mother or child would be threatened by the work environment.” This bill will allow women to consult with their doctor and identify when it is in the best interest of the mother and unborn child to begin maternity benefits, and will mitigate the financial hardship women are faced with as a result of pre and postpartum care.
The next step is to address the issue of maternity leave for women who are in workplace training. Women should have the opportunity to complete in-school training the same year as giving birth without being unduly penalized financially. The National Maternity Assistance program, as outlined in this Bill, eliminates barriers for women considering a career in the skilled trades. A national strategy would serve to address the many issues of pregnancy and maternity benefits related to these occupations.
Build Together is a national Canada’s Building Trades Unions program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. For more information, please visit www.buildtogether.ca
SOURCE: Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO