The reform of the Act respecting the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) aimed in particular to put an end to an injustice with regard to adopted children who, until then, were not entitled to the same legal protection as other children. It is the result of a consensus made possible thanks to the non-partisan approach of parliamentarians, enlightened by expertise in paediatrics, social services and law, as well as by various parental associations.
Although the law now traces the path to follow in the granting of parental leave, several collective agreements maintain, or even reiterate, unequal treatment of families and children, as demonstrated by the recent agreement in principle concluded between the Université de Sherbrooke and the Teachers’ Union (SPPUS).
Arguing to act on behalf of the right to equality of biological fathers whose five-week leave was shorter than that of an adoptive parent (mother or father) which was 17 weeks, the SPPUS claimed that the two leaves should be an equal duration. In doing so, the union forgot that adoption leave has long been the only compensation for maternity leave and that the QPIP now recognizes a leave reserved exclusively for adopters in order to take into account the particular profile of adopted children. In fact, most of them present with developmental delays, post-traumatic syndromes, attachment challenges or various physical health problems, including malnutrition and sometimes stressful surgical conditions, making their particularly demanding and complex treatment.
However, according to the agreement in principle reached between the University of Sherbrooke and the SPPUS, the biological parents will be entitled together to 36 weeks during which they will receive 100% of their salary, while the adoptive parents will be entitled to 20 weeks of leave. .
Moreover, by failing to consider that adoptive mothers are much more likely than adoptive fathers to receive QPIP benefits, the unions that choose this strategy, which essentially consists of undressing Jean to dress Paul, are in reality carrying out a gendered struggle in which women bear the brunt of the majority.
In support of their claims, the proponents of this approach hide behind a few court decisions whose legal basis is based on the assertion that there is no significant difference between the care of a child, whether either biological or adopted. However, the scientific literature destroys the validity of this assertion. It is therefore no longer possible, in our view, to establish a difference in treatment between families and children solely on the basis of these decisions. The study of these also shows that unions sometimes use adoption leave as a lever to demand the extension of paternity leave, in return for a reduction in the rights of adopters. The paternity leave granted by the University of Sherbrooke is now double that provided by the QPIP. However, this gain is made to the detriment of adopted children who, being more vulnerable, are particularly affected by the reduction in the duration of adoption leave. It is precisely to put an end to this discriminatory situation that the law on the QPIP was amended.
While the number of children in the care of the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse is on the rise, the commitment of adults ready to invest themselves, as parents, with these children with special needs is more important than ever. . So, when some are ready to take up this challenge, they should be able to count on the support of their community, including that of their employer and their union.