moved for leave to introduce Bill C-362, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (increase of maximum number of weeks: combined weeks of benefits).
Mr. Speaker, all too often the government pays lip service to supporting women without taking any concrete steps to improve the lives of women and girls. Offering posters and platitudes simply is not good enough.
We need to take action now. That is why I am pleased to reintroduce legislation today that would make the employment insurance system fair for working mothers. One of the many barriers that prevent women from accessing 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 still coming 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 no longer qualify for the employment insurance benefits for which they have paid.
My bill would bring fairness to working mothers by eliminating the 50-week cap and changing the qualifying period so individuals could access their maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits without worrying that if they lost their jobs in the interim they would be left without EI.
Working moms deserve the support of this House. I urge all members to give unanimous consent to pass this bill now.
Finally, I want to thank the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan for seconding this bill and for her continuing support of this initiative. I know that when that bill comes before her committee, she will lead the fight for fairness for working mothers.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)