More dads are taking paternity leave, report says
Stats show that paternity leave is quickly becoming a popular choice for male parents, and thank goodness, because dads can love too.
While the trend is most pronounced in Quebec, fathers across Canada are taking more time off to care for their children. The Statistics Canada report released yesterday examined only those fathers who used their federal or provincial parental leave benefits; many more dads took an informal leave, paid or unpaid. The proportion of fathers who took any kind of leave after a birth or adoption rose from 38 per cent in 2001 to 55 per cent in 2006, according to another Statistics Canada report.
The trends reflect a larger social shift, researchers say.
"An important aspect is the cultural change in fathers' participation and involvement with children, from parental leave to child care," says Katherine Marshall, a senior analyst with Statistics Canada.
For eligible fathers who didn't take paternity leave, the most commonly cited reason was family choice (40 per cent), followed by difficulty taking time off work (22 per cent) and financial issues (17 per cent).
The idea of paternity leave is rapidly gaining acceptance, says Clarence Lochhead, executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family. In some industries and workplaces there's still a stigma around fathers who take more than a few days or weeks off, he acknowledges, but among younger generations paternity leave is increasingly seen as normal.
"There's more of an acceptance that, yes, men can do these things, and can and should take part in the raising of the child," Mr. Lochhead says.
A growing body of research supports the push for paternity leave. Studies have shown that greater father involvement correlates with better cognitive development in infants, higher educational attainment, fewer behavioural problems in the teen years, lower rates of criminal behaviour and better social functioning.