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Calgary mother petitioning government for equal adoption leave benefits

Calgary mom Lindsey Salloway knows all too well that adopting a child is very different in many ways.

Most parents have nine months or so to prepare, but Salloway’s notice was a bit shorter.

“We found out we were getting him a month before he was born,” she said. That was, of course, after a four and a half year wait going through the adoptive process.

As she was researching the adoption process, Salloway discovered something that troubled her. Adoptive parents don’t get the same 15-week Employment Insurance (EI) maternity benefit to which biological parents are entitled.

That means working adoptive parents get fewer benefits, and less time at home bonding with their baby.

The arrival of her son William in December of 2016 was the catalyst that got her fighting to change the rules.

With the help of Conservative MP Tom Kmiec, Salloway launched a petition that calls for all parents in Canada to receive equal time to spend with their newborn children, biological or adopted.

Kmiec said he saw right away that Salloway’s concerns deserved attention from the government.

“For adoptive parents – out of the kindness of your heart – you’re taking in a child who desperately needs parents and doesn’t have them,” said Kmiec. “You need time with them so they bond with you as well.”

He said it was around that time the Liberal government extended parental leave time – but not benefits – for new parents. Those do apply to adoptive parents, but the change still did nothing to address the 15-week maternity benefit gap.

“To me, we should be celebrating those people who want to take on the responsibility of adopting and becoming parents, regardless if they’re giving birth – it’s just as important.”

Kmiec said a petition is the first step in getting the change made.

“Sometimes I have other MPs who have come to me after previous petitions who say, ‘this is a great idea,’ or, ‘I agree with this. Let’s work together.'”

The government has to respond to petitions that are read out in the House of Commons 45 days after the petition is tabled.

Kmiec said he always looks at the response to see if there’s a direction he can take from there.

Salloway said her petition already has the 500 signatures they need to have it read out in the House of Commons. Everything else now is gravy.

“But I would like that gravy. I would like as many signatures on it as I can get.”