“California recently passed legislation that allows employees to take off up to five days of work following a reproductive loss. The Miscarriage Law, which comes into effect Jan. 1, 2024 in the U.S., applies to miscarriages, stillbirths, failed adoptions or surrogacies and unsuccessful assisted reproduction, including in-vitro fertilization. The leave is not required to be paid, but it does protect employees from any retaliation as a result of taking the time off.”
The Push for Change in Canada
Canadians who’ve experienced pregnancy losses are hoping a recent piece of legislation in the United States can influence lawmakers north of the border. The introduction of California’s new law has provided a glimmer of hope to those advocating for similar measures in Canada. This significant development has reignited a passionate debate surrounding the rights of employees dealing with reproductive loss, and the possibility of change is now within reach.
Advocates in Canada have long fought for measures to support those struggling with reproductive losses, including both paid and unpaid leave for affected employees. The discussion has been further intensified by the recent legislative changes in the U.S., prompting reflection on current Canadian policies.
The Fight for Support in Canada
In the 2023 budget, the federal government signalled plans to introduce new paid leave for federally regulated workers who experience pregnancy loss. However, movement on the legislation has remained stagnant since. Additionally, various provinces such as Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Ontario have introduced different forms of leave related to pregnancy loss, but the guidelines and eligibility vary across regions.
Efforts from advocates and organizations, such as the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Centre in Calgary, have been pivotal in spearheading legislative changes in certain provinces. The center’s CEO, Aditi Loveridge, is a vocal supporter of pregnancy loss leave, emphasizing it as a “non-partisan issue” that requires universal consideration.
The Impact of Reproductive Loss
The introduction of pregnancy loss leave has sparked discussions surrounding the economic repercussions and mental health implications of inadequate support for affected parents. Advocates argue that the lack of appropriate leave can have negative long-term effects, pushing individuals out of the workforce and ultimately undermining the economy.
A study by the Public Health Agency of Canada revealed that between 15 and 25 per cent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, underscoring the urgency to address this issue. The absence of comprehensive support for reproductive loss, both from a legislative and societal standpoint, can exacerbate feelings of isolation and grief experienced by affected parents.
A Call for Change and Compassion
Theresa Morrison, who endured a miscarriage and a stillbirth within a year, emphasizes the need for greater recognition of pregnancy loss in the workplace. She urges for a shift in societal attitudes and emphasizes the importance of validating the grief experienced by parents. Bridget’s Bunnies, an organization founded by Morrison, provides support and resources to parents undergoing pregnancy loss, advocating for a more compassionate approach to bereavement.
Both Morrison and Klein believe that California’s law is a positive step in raising awareness around the issue and bringing about change to policies. Their advocacy sheds light on the necessity of acknowledging and addressing the profound impact of reproductive loss. Their voices, alongside the broader movement for legislative change in Canada, seek to create a more empathetic and supportive environment for individuals navigating pregnancy loss.
The recent legislative developments in the United States have reverberating implications for the ongoing discourse surrounding reproductive loss in Canada. As advocates and affected individuals continue to push for change, the need for a more empathetic and supportive framework for pregnancy loss leave is paramount. The introduction of such legislation not only holds the promise of economic and societal benefits but, more importantly, symbolizes a meaningful step towards acknowledging the profound impact of pregnancy loss on individuals and families.