moved for leave to introduce Bill C-378, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (increase of maximum number of weeks: combined weeks of benefits).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce legislation today that will make the employment insurance system fair for working mothers. I particularly want to thank the member for Nickel Belt for seconding this bill and for his profound commitment to this issue.
One of the many barriers that prevent women from accessing their EI entitlements is the anti-stacking provisions in the Employment Insurance Act. For example, these provisions prevent mothers who have secured maternity and parental benefits from accessing regular EI benefits in the event that they lose their jobs during these officially sanctioned leaves.
With layoff announcements coming almost daily, new mothers often find that their workplaces are closing during their maternity leave or they return to work but lose their jobs soon after. Shamefully, they find that they have no longer qualified for the employment insurance benefits they have paid for.
My bill will bring fairness to working mothers by eliminating the 50 week cap and changing the qualifying period so that individuals can access their maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits without worrying that if they lose their jobs in the interim, they will be left without EI.
I hope the government will pass this bill before May 10 because hard-working moms deserve more than flowers and chocolates this Mother's Day. They deserve fairness when it comes to EI.
I would be remiss if I did not thank Ben Rossitter from the Parkdale legal clinic for his advocacy on this issue, and Marie-Andrée Roy and Sam Dinicol for working on drafts and redrafts until we finally brought this bill to fruition.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)