Mr. Speaker, I first want to welcome you and all my colleagues from every party back to the House.
I rise today on Bill C-318, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code, regarding a very specific topic: adoptive and intended parents.
The Liberal government has demonstrated a severe lack of leadership on that file. As a quick explanation for those who might not be familiar with the bill on this first sitting day after the summer break, it introduces a new type of special EI benefits, specifically, an attachment benefit of 15 weeks for adoptive parents and parents of children conceived through surrogacy.
The bill would also amend the Canada Labour Code to extend parental leave accordingly. It would also extend the benefit period while the child is hospitalized. I do not think anyone here in this House is questioning the need for a parent to take time off work to properly welcome a new baby home.
Whether we have children of our own or not, we all know that the arrival of a new child in a home is an intense and challenging time: cries, tears, nightmares, anxiety, colic pain, possible health or feeding issues, and so on. I see members smiling. We have all been there. We have to remove from the house everything that can possibly be dangerous for the little one and arrange the space so as to maximize the baby's mental and physical development.
An important part of being a parent is creating that special bond with the child. Parents have to make sure that their kids are happy, that they have everything they need, and that they feel safe and can develop trusting relationships with their new family.
There is no question that all new parents go through a complex adjustment period that is full of challenges and is different for each child. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is no manual or piece of legislation that can really prepare us for that. Believe me, I too have been through it.
However, there are measures the government can put in place to make things a little easier and give new parents the tools they need—and I do mean all new parents. As it is often said, adoptive parents do not have it any easier than biological parents.
In fact, the opposite is often true, and this relates to the notion of attachment mentioned in the summary of Bill C-318. The literature indicates that the attachment theory referred to earlier by my colleague has emerged as a decisive factor in determining the best interests of the child.
John Bowlby's theory highlighted the fact that, from birth, children turn to adults for protection. The elements of attachment theory are based on the need for stability, consistency and adequate basic care in terms of both quantity and quality. Forming attachments is essential to children's long-term psychological health.
That said, in the case of adoption or surrogacy, the process of forming attachments can be tricky because there is no biological connection. The relationship needs to be developed, and that takes time.
It is worth noting that the meeting between parents and child often involves long-distance travel in different time zones, fatigue and changes of culture, language and climate. The children themselves obviously do not share the same excitement as their new parents. They have to say goodbye to the places they know and to everyone who has cared for them since they were born, people they have formed bonds with.
The impact of the overall decline in international adoption must also be factored in. I say this because it is increasingly difficult to adopt young children here in Canada. The process takes longer and is more complex than it used to be.
As for parents adopting a child conceived through surrogacy, certain factors may differ, but the challenges of creating a bond are quite similar. They need enough time with their child to foster attachment and create a strong, lasting parenting bond. I would also like to remind the House that, currently, neither the Canadian nor the Quebec maternity and parental leave plans contain an attachment benefit as proposed in the current bill.
Considering all this, the Bloc Québécois obviously and firmly supports creating a 15-week attachment benefit—yes, 15 weeks—for adoptive parents and parents of children conceived through surrogacy. This is not an onerous measure. I therefore invite my colleagues to vote with the Bloc Québécois in support of Bill C‑318.
However, what is somewhat disappointing to the Bloc Québécois right now is the Liberals' lack of leadership in the whole EI file overall. Need I remind the House that two years ago, in 2021, the Liberal Party campaigned on the promise to modernize employment insurance? It promised to extend the system to cover self-employed workers and to address the shortcomings brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here we are now in September 2023 and, based on the Liberals' last budget, we can see that there is still nothing. Nothing has been done except for two small reforms, if we can call them that. We are far from the major structural changes that were promised to Canadians and Quebeckers. What guarantee do we have that this bill, even if it is passed, will be implemented by the Liberals? As my colleague was saying, the Liberals need to walk the talk. The talk does not seem to be a problem, but the walk is not getting us very far.
In closing, I invite my colleagues yet again to vote with the Bloc, and me, of course, in favour of Bill C‑318. This could help many families in dire need.
I thank my colleagues for listening and I wish them a good return to Parliament.