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Province to close “mommy/parent gap” for public school teachers

  • December 3, 2015
  • News

Manitoba teachers’ leaves now on equal footing with Canadian counterparts

Teachers in Manitoba will no longer take a hit in both pay and pension benefits to have children. The Manitoba government announced a change to the Education Administration Act today that will see teachers who take maternity and parental leaves get full credit for seniority and salary..

“The elimination of the “mommy gap” or parent gap is welcome news for our teachers,” says Norm Gould, President of The Manitoba Teachers’ Society. “It puts our female members on equal footing with male members in Manitoba, and with their colleagues in the rest of Canada. The same holds true for women and men teachers who access parental leave. And it’s another example of how much this government values Manitoba teachers and listens to their concerns.”

Until now, Manitoba has recognized only 85 days of credit for teachers accessing maternity and parental leave, rather than the full school year common in most other Canadian provinces. That has put Manitoba teachers who have children at a distinct disadvantage because of delayed pay increments early in their careers and smaller pensions later in life.

The effort to change the status quo was set in motion at AGM 2009 when a resolution was passed to amend a regulation in the Education Administration Act to include “maternity leave or parental leave granted in accordance with the Employment Standards Code, to a maximum in any school year of 200 teaching days for a full-time member.”

Today’s change means that members of the Society on parental or maternity leave will no longer be disadvantaged by choosing to have children. They will be eligible, at the same time as their colleagues and counterparts, for their annual salary increments—just as they would had they not chosen to have a family.

“No woman should ever feel that she is being penalized for having a baby,” says MTS staff officer Nancy Kerr. “As a society, we have agreed on the importance of women having time at home with their babies in that critical first year of life, both through provincial legislation that grants a full year of leave, and federal legislation that grants Employment Insurance benefits for 50 weeks of that leave. Giving teachers full credit of service for that year of leave just makes sense.”

The amendment will also have positive long-term effects on pensionable earnings and years of service towards pension. Information provided by the Teachers’ Retirement Allowances Fund (TRAF) shows that, until now, male teachers generally have had greater career earnings and more years of service than their female counterparts. Much of this inequity can be attributed to women staying home with their newborns. Today’s announcement will help to correct this.

“It means young teachers will no longer have their increments delayed, significantly reducing the impact of having a baby on both lifetime earnings and pensions,” says Kerr. “And teachers who are at maximum earnings will see a positive impact on their pensions.”

MTS staff officer Arlyn Filewich says, “This is ‎a huge achievement for our youngest members and their growing families. It’s proof that when teachers raise issues of equity and voice their concerns, we have teacher advocates who take action of their behalf. We are so thankful that MTS President Norm Gould and our Provincial Executive have made these changes both a priority and a reality.”

Gould says teachers appreciate the effort the Manitoba government has taken to consult with the Society on an issue that’s so important to teachers and their families. He says the change operates on three levels. “First, it eliminates a legislative injustice and discrimination that been in place for years. Second, it will relieve some of the pressure on our younger members who take maternity or parental leave. And finally, it will give anyone who accesses these leaves more security in retirement.”