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March 2003     Vol. 4, no. 3

Benefiting from extended parental leave

Katherine Marshall

  • After the extension of parental benefits from 10 to 35 weeks, employed mothers in receipt of benefits increased (or planned to increase) their time away from work from 6 months in 2000 to 10 months in 2001.
  • One-quarter of all mothers with benefits in 2001 were back to work within 8 months. These women were more likely to have a non-permanent or low-paying job, or a spouse who claimed parental benefits.
  • Time taken off work by mothers who did not receive maternity or parental benefits and returned to work remained at four months for 2001.
  • More new mothers received maternity or parental benefits in 2001 than in 2000 (61% versus 54%)—likely because of the reduced number of hours required for benefits and women's increased labour force participation.
  • After the extension of parental benefits, fathers' participation in the program jumped from 3% in 2000 to 10% in 2001.


Katherine Marshall is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-6890 or

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