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WeNeedaLAW staff present to Parliament committee on maternity benefits

We Need a Law has a new Administrative Assistant. Alicia Ibbitson has a background in medical research. She started her job earlier this month, but a week before she was officially on board, she appeared – by video link – as a witness before Parliament’s Human Services Committee. The Committee is looking at improvement to maternity benefits, and Ibbitson says there’s a tangible link to the abortion issue. “Twenty percent of women who seek to have an abortion state finances as their number one reason” for requesting the procedure, she says.

Her presentation focused on three areas. First was a call for a minimum amount to be paid out. “(For) some people, their maternity benefit is quite low; like $600 dollars a month, something you could just never live on.” She also suggested changes to the subsidy regime for women who choose to work part-time during their maternity leave, and changes to the paperwork involved in applying for the benefit. Expectant mothers, she said, should be allowed to fill out the paperwork during the third trimester of their pregnancy so there’s no waiting period once the baby is born. She says the last suggestion seemed to resonate with the Committee because it didn’t involve any extra government expense.

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