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First Session, Forty-second Parliament,
64-65 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-243
An Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy and amending the Employment Insurance Act (maternity benefits)
FIRST READING, FEBRUARY 26, 2016
Mr. Gerretsen
421189


SUMMARY
The purpose of this enactment is to provide for the development and implementation of a national maternity assistance program strategy and to amend the Employment Insurance Act in order to allow a claimant to begin using her maternity benefits 15 weeks before the week in which her confinement is expected if she is unable to perform the duties of her regular or usual employment or of other suitable employment because her current job functions may pose a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child and her employer is unable to modify her job functions or reassign her to another job.
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1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
64-65 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016
HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
BILL C-243
An Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy and amending the Employment Insurance Act (maternity benefits)
Preamble
Whereas the principle of gender equity demands that both men and women have an equal opportunity to participate and become fully integrated into all sectors of the labour force;
Whereas, in 2014, women represented 47.‍3% of the labour force, up from 45.‍7% in 1999 and 37.‍1% in 1976;
Whereas part of this integration involves seeing more women participate in occupations traditionally held by men, including those with potentially hazardous work environments;
Whereas women’s participation is increasing in a number of skilled trades and other non-traditional occupations, including heavy equipment operator, industrial electrician and construction craft labourer;
Whereas a woman’s pregnancy should not act as a barrier to full participation in the workforce, adversely affect her employment, inflict financial hardship or compromise the pursuit of her chosen career;
Whereas the Government of Canada administers an employment insurance system that offers maternity benefits to biological mothers, including surrogate mothers, and parental benefits to parents who are caring for a new or newly adopted child or children;
Whereas Quebec has a Safe Maternity Experience program that uses preventive measures to allow pregnant and nursing women to continue working and allows for preventive withdrawal in cases where an employer cannot reassign an employee or eliminate the hazards to her health or that of her unborn or breast-fed child;
And whereas Canada, unlike many other advanced democracies, does not have a long-term comprehensive national strategy to allow pregnant and nursing women to continue working and to financially support them in cases where they are unable to work during their pregnancy;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
National Maternity Assistance Program
Short title
1This Act may be cited as the National Maternity As-sistance Program Strategy Act.
Definition of Minister
2In this Act, Minister means the Minister of Employment and Social Development.
National Maternity Assistance Program
3(1) The Minister must, in collaboration with other federal ministers and with representatives of the provincial and territorial governments responsible for employment and other relevant stakeholders, conduct consultations on the prospect of developing a national maternity assist-ance program to support women who are unable to work due to pregnancy and whose employer is unable to accommodate them by providing reassignment. The consultations must include an assessment of
(a) the current demand for a national maternity as-sistance program;
(b) the adequacy of the current federal and provincial programs oriented to assisting women during pregnancy;
(c) the financial and other costs of implementing a national maternity assistance program;
(d) the potential social and economic benefits of a national maternity assistance program; and
(e) any legal, constitutional or jurisdictional implications of implementing a national maternity assistance program.
Consultations
(2) The Minister must, in collaboration with other federal ministers, within a year after the day on which this Act comes into force, hold consultations with representatives of the provincial and territorial governments responsible for employment and other relevant stakeholders for the purpose of discussing the development of a strategy to implement a national maternity assistance program.
Report to Parliament
4(1) The Minister must cause a copy of a report setting out the conclusions of the consultations on a national maternity assistance program to be laid before each House of Parliament within two years after the day on which this Act comes into force.
Publication of report
(2) The Minister must post the report on the departmental Web site within 30 days after the day on which the report is tabled in Parliament.
Review and Report
Review and Report
5(1) Within three years of the tabling of the report referred to in section 4, and every three years after that, the Minister must prepare a report setting out his or her conclusions and recommendations regarding the strategy referred to in section 3, and cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.
Publication of report
(2) The Minister must post the report on the departmental Web site within 30 days after the day on which the report is tabled in Parliament.
1996, c. 23
Employment Insurance Act
6Section 22 of the Employment Insurance Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Weeks for which benefits may be paid
(2.‍1) 
Subject to section 12 and despite subsection (2), benefits under this section are payable to a major attachment claimant who has obtained a certificate completed by a medical doctor attesting to the claimant’s inability to perform the duties of her regular or usual employment or of other suitable employment because her current job functions may pose a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child and whose employer is unable to modify her job functions or reassign her to another job for each week of unemployment in the period
(a) that begins the earlier of
(i) 15 weeks before the week in which her confinement is expected, and
(ii) the week in which her confinement occurs; and
(b) that ends 17 weeks after the later of
(i) the week in which her confinement is expected, and
(ii) the week in which her confinement occurs.
7Section 152.‍04 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Weeks for which benefits may be paid
(2.‍1) 
Subject to section 152.‍14 and despite subsection 152.‍04(2), benefits under this section are payable to a self-employed person who has obtained a certificate completed by a medical doctor attesting to her inability to perform the duties of her regular or usual employment or of other suitable employment because her current job functions may pose a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child and who is unable to modify her job functions for each week of unemployment in the period
(a) that begins the earlier of
(i) 15 weeks before the week in which her confinement is expected, and
(ii) the week in which her confinement occurs; and
(b) that ends 17 weeks after the later of
(i) the week in which her confinement is expected, and
(ii) the week in which her confinement occurs.
Published under authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons

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