Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being with us today. I listened intently. I appreciate what you had to share.
In our last meeting we had MP Gerretsen, who is the sponsor of Bill C-243, give testimony. He recommended that the committee amend Bill C-243 because there are two parts to the bill. One that a pregnant woman could move the 15 weeks to take them all prior to delivery. Right now a person can take up to eight weeks early. The recommendation was that they could take the full 15 weeks early. The government announced in the budget that it would be 12 weeks instead of 15. That half of his bill was redundant, and it was recommended it be removed. Quite a bit of the testimony we've heard from the witnesses today is addressing that aspect of the 15 weeks.
I appreciate the testimony, but I'm going to focus my questions, assuming that we'll respect Mr. Gerretsen's request that we focus on the second portion of his bill. If we do amend it, taking out that first portion, his second portion is asking for a study, a consultation to create a national maternity assistance program. That will be the focus of my questions.
In the remaining portion of his bill, assuming it's amended, the minister must “conduct consultations on the prospect of developing a national maternity assistance program to support women who are unable to work due to pregnancy and whose employer is unable to accommodate them by providing reassignment”. Those consultations would include:
(a) the current demand for a national maternity assistance program; (b) the adequacy of the current federal and provincial programs oriented to assisting women during pregnancy; (c) the financial and other costs of implementing a national maternity assistance program; (d) the potential social and economic benefits of a national maternity assistance program;
I'm quite interested in Alicia Ibbitson from Chilliwack, a new mom having just gone through a pregnancy. How old is your baby now?