Conservatives pledge extra EI leave, expanded tax credit for adoptive parents

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are promising to provide more paid time off and an expanded tax credit for adopting parents.

As it stands, parents who adopt children receive 35 weeks of leave through the employment insurance system, compared to an additional 15 weeks of maternity leave for new mothers.

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The Tories are promising that a Conservative government would give parents who adopt children under the age of 18 an extra 15 weeks of EI-funded leave to provide a full year off.

The Liberals made a similar pledge last month.

The Conservatives are also promising to increase the value of the adoption expense tax credit to $20,000 and make the credit refundable — meaning families may get money back at tax time.

The tax credit was first introduced by the Paul Martin Liberals in their last budget before being replaced by Stephen Harper's Conservatives, which subsequently expanded eligible expenses under the program in 2013, and the overall value to $15,000 in 2014.

The most recent tax expenditure report from the Finance Department noted that about 1,900 people claimed the credit in 2016, for a cost of roughly $2 million in lost income tax revenue.

The parliamentary budget office, in its costing of the proposal, estimated the impact on federal finances to be "small" — meaning it would be less than $500,000 annually over the next decade even when pegged to increase with inflation figures.

The Conservatives say that their tax change will provide a family with up to $3,000 in tax savings in 2020, an increase of about $518 from the $2,482 available today.

The cost for changes to EI would be about $13 million a year, the PBO estimated.

Like the Liberal proposal, premiums paid by employers and employees that fund the EI system on a break-even basis would have to nudge up by less than one cent from current rate projections.

The most recent report from Employment and Social Development Canada on the EI system noted that in the 12-month period ending March 2018, adoptive parents made up less than one per cent of new claims for parental benefits, or roughly 1,500 of the 198,050 new claims from across the country.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 10, 2019.

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