Canada’s top employers and adoption benefits


Stephen Crosby
Focus on Adoption magazine

It is difficult to conceive why new adoptive parents would not receive employee benefits equal to those biological parents enjoy. As every adoptive parent knows, the process of bringing children home for the first time, introducing them to their new home, and establishing a strong parent-child bond, takes considerable time and work.

However, employers still don’t offer new adoptive parents the same employee benefits as biological parents, particularly in respect to those employers that top up the Employment Insurance payments given by the Canadian government.

Luckily though, more organizations are now stepping up to contribute financial support to all new parents.

Take the Vancouver-based firm, Ecotrust. At Ecotrust, new parents, both adoptive and biological, receive between 55-80% top-up pay for up to six months when they take parental leave.

Some employers, such as Ernst & Young Canada, offer their employees one-time lump sums towards the cost of adoption. At Ernst and Young the contribution is $10,000.

Providing benefit packages like these speak volumes concerning a corporation’s character and sense of social responsibility. As a firm proponent of corporate responsibility, my hat goes off to individuals such as Marie-Claire Seebohm of Ecotrust (who brought up the issue of benefit parity), and Ecotrust’s Vice- President at the time (who accepted the proposal).

It is unknown what percentage of Canadian firms offer similar benefit packages, although they would certainly be in the minority.

Every year, however, after considerable screening and competition, Canadian Publisher Mediacorp releases a compendium of 100 top employers across Canada. While this single publication certainly cannot be used as a statistical sample of Canadian firms at large, these corporations are generally considered to be on the cutting edge in terms of innovation and progressive human resource policies. Of Canada’s top 100 employers in 2006, 36 firms top up parental benefits for adoptive parents. Nine firms offer money towards the cost of adoption. The fact that adoption benefits are now being included in the book is also a positive sign for the adoption community. It is to be hoped that this alone will alert other employers to the fact that they too could promote fairness and support adoption.