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Fathers' use of paid parental leave

  • By Katherine Marshall


  • In 2001, the federal Parental Benefits Program increased shareable parental leave benefits from 10 to 35 weeks. In 2006, Quebec introduced its own Parental Insurance Program, including a five-week non-transferable leave for fathers. As a result, the proportion of fathers claiming paid parental leave increased significantly—from 3% in 2000 to 10% in 2001, and again from 15% in 2005 to 20% in 2006.

  • In 2006, 56% of eligible fathers in Quebec claimed benefits for an average of 7 weeks compared with 11% of fathers outside Quebec who did so for 17 weeks.

  • Fathers were significantly more likely to claim benefits if they lived in Quebec and if they had a co-claiming spouse who earned the same or more than they did. More than half of fathers outside Quebec who claimed parental leave benefits were the sole person in the household to do so.

  • The most common reason for eligible fathers not claiming benefits was family choice (40%), followed by difficulty taking time off work (22%) and financial issues (17%).

  • Internationally, 13 of 20 OECD countries have national paid parental leave programs with at least two weeks available to the father. Of these, 9 use legislation to encourage fathers' participation.

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