Del Duca promises extended parental leave top up

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The Ontario Liberals promise to top up benefits for an 18-month parental leave.

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At a campaign stop in Toronto Wednesday, Leader Steven Del Duca said the price of food, getting around town and raising a family have all gone up over the past four years of a Doug Ford government.

His party’s pledge to fund parental leave up to 69 weeks would address the affordability crisis, he said.

“By our calculation, this kind of plan, topping up and fully funding an 18-month parental leave program, could put up to $255 back in the pockets of Ontario families each and every single week,” Del Duca said.

The federal government allows new parents to extend their Employment Insurance benefits to 18 months.

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EI pays 55% of earnings up to $638 a week for the first 40 weeks, dropping to 33% or up to $383 a week for another 29 weeks.

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Under the Liberal plan, the province of Ontario would cover the cost of providing 55% of salary for those last 29 weeks.

The Ontario Liberals estimate this promise would cost the treasury $100 million annually starting in 2023-24.

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The Ontario NDP said in a response that the Liberals had 15 years in government to make life easier for new parents, but chose not to provide that help.

“They drove up the price of child care, and battled midwives in court,” the NDP statement says. “Expectant parents know that Steven Del Duca was at the cabinet table when those decisions were made — and they don’t believe that this time he’ll fix what he helped break.”

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