B.C. New Democrats join with families to demand an end to the maternity leave clawback

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VICTORIA —
On the International Day of Human Rights, New Democrats are joining with families with disabilities to demand an end to the Christy Clark government’s maternity leave clawback.

“The birth of a child should be a time of joy, not a time of government-mandated hardship,” said New Democrat spokesperson on social development, Michelle Mungall. “It’s wrong for the Christy Clark government to systematically deny people with disabilities their rights to maternity and parental leave, and plunge them into poverty.”

Since becoming disabled due to a brain injury, Tim Kerfoot has needed a wheelchair to get around. He works at Walmart as a greeter, and was chosen from among over 2 million employees as their international employee of the year in 2012.

Like other workers, Tim paid into Employment Insurance. Unlike other workers, Tim saw the parental leave benefits he paid for taken away, dollar for dollar by the Christy Clark government.

“My wife and I recently welcomed our new child into the world,” said Kerfoot. “When I took time off of work to help with our new responsibilities, I saw my parental benefits clawed back. I’m able to work part-time under the rules, but I’m not allowed to enjoy the same working rights as others because I have a disability. This has left my family struggling to make ends meet or without the necessary support as we care for our newborn.”

Jessica Alford has also struggled to pay the bills when she recently took a maternity leave. Instead of keeping her benefits like everyone else, the Christy Clark government took them away because her family also receives Disability.

“I paid into Employment Insurance just like every other worker. It’s unfair for my family and anyone with a disability to be left wondering how they will make ends meet when we take time off after having a baby,” said Alford. “Families deserves better.”