children playing

One in three newborns in Canada has a parent unable to access parental leave

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Press release
Publication Date: 
11 Jun 2024


Canada’s parental leave system is deeply inequitable, favouring educated parents with secure jobs, while excluding parents whose children stand to benefit the most from adequately paid, protected time off, according to a new UNICEF Canada-Léger poll released for UNICEF’s Parenting Month. As a result, one in three newborns in Canada has a parent unable to access parental leave*.  

The poll found that parents of children under six with a university degree and employed, who are married or in a common-law relationship and do not identify as a visible minority are significantly more likely to be eligible to paid parental leave. Yet, findings show most Canadians are unaware of parental leave inequities. More than three out of four Canadians (77 per cent) believe that all parents of newborns in Canada benefit from paid parental leave.  

“It’s time to rethink parental leave in Canada. This needs to be considered more than a parental or worker benefit and rather a child’s right.” said Sevaun Palvetzian, President & CEO of UNICEF Canada. “Every infant in this country should have the opportunity for the best possible start in life, which includes having time with parents with an adequate income during the most critical stage in their development."