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Paternity Leave Challenged

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that the Canadian Unemployment Insurance Act discriminates against natural parents. In a suit brought by Shalom Schacter of Toronto, the justice found that the act denies natural parents the choice available to adoptive parents — that either parent may stay home with a new child and collect unemployment insurance benefits for 15 weeks.

Schacter, a lawyer and arbitration officer for a union, hailed the decision, stating: “I feel vindicated in my views of how fathers can take a greater role in the family and not just be breadwinners.” He challenged the law after he took three weeks off following the birth of his second son in July 1985 so that his wife could go back to work. He told the Federal Court that he and his wife, Marcia Gilbert, had an egalitarian marriage and shared parental responsibilities.