A Pregnant Pause: Federalism, Equality and the Maternity and Parental Leave Debate in Canada
20 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 22, 2014
In Reference re E.I. the Supreme Court of Canada was asked to assess the constitutionality of the federally administered maternity and parental leave benefit regime. This social programme has been a key site of feminist struggle in Canada, with attention focused in recent years on whether the benefit, as delivered, was an equality-enhancing regime. This note examines the way in which the questions posed to the Supreme Court of Canada were framed in a manner that obscured the essential equality dimensions of the issue before the Court. It is argued, however, that, notwithstanding the relatively formal division of powers answer that the Court was called upon to give, the decision is a promisingly substantive reflection on the debate over the most effective means to recognize the care-giving labour of Canadian parents through the delivery of this benefit.
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