The child welfare system in Canada is in “a state of crisis,” according to a new report from Western University. There are too many children and youth flowing into the system, especially from marginalized social groups including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, and African Canadians. There are also not enough children or youth leaving the system to join permanent, safe, and loving homes.
There are two main objectives of the report, which is titled Time to Attach: An Argument in Favour of EI Attachment Benefits. First, to show that when these children are placed in permanent families, they need more ‘time to attach’ to their new parents or caregivers than Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits system currently allows them to have; and second, to argue that the government should introduce new ‘attachment benefits’ for these families.
Time to Attach recommends attachment benefits should, at the very least, be equal to maternity benefits. This means they should be available for 15 weeks at a rate of 55 per cent of average weekly insurable earnings.
“Attachment leave is an issue that is close to the heart of many people who provide children with permanency,” says Carolyn McLeod, a Professor in Philosophy and Women’s Studies & Feminist Research at Western, who led the study. “Now we want it to be close to the heart of the federal government. Adoptive parents and kin or customary caregivers deserve greater parental leave benefits and Time to Attach outlines why.”
The study, produced for Adopt4life (A4L): Ontario’s Adoptive Parents Association and the Adoption Council of Canada (ACC), offers three central reasons in favour of attachment benefits specifically, and for greater time to attach more generally: