Every year on October 15, Canada observes Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day helps us remember the lives of all babies and infants that were taken from us far too early, and encourages action to create more support for bereaved parents. Simply put, the support for parents who have suffered this unimaginable grief is not currently available.
Under the current system, parents who have suffered the loss of a child under the age of 12 months lose their parental benefits immediately. Airdrie residents Sarah and Lee Cormier came to meet with me and told me about how they lost their daughter Quinn at four months of age from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death. Shortly after, the Cormier’s were informed by Service Canada that they had to pay back the money received through parental benefits for the week after Quinn passed away.
Families facing this situation are often forced to go back to work due to financial hardships. Families may not have even buried their infant before these benefits cease, which adds to the stress of the grieving parents. My meeting with the Cormier’s made me realize the serious flaw in our system. I set out to fix this issue by introducing a motion in the House of Commons, to raise awareness and to begin a much-needed conversation.
In December of 2016, I put forward a private member’s motion, seeking to provide better financial support to parents after the death of an infant. Motion 110 would have the government study the impact on parents who have suffered the loss of an infant child and look at ways to improve the level of compassion and support for these parents. The study would also look at ways of ensuring the parents do not suffer any financial or emotional hardship as a result of government programming, particularly from Employment Insurance Parental Benefits. I believe that it is the government’s responsibility to help alleviate some of the pressure that grieving parents face in these situations.
Motion 110 will help Canada compare its standards with other countries. My hope is that Parliament will be able to recommend changes that will help grieving parents cope with the loss of an infant child. SIDS is one of the most common causes of death for children less than 12 months old. I strongly believe that we need immediate action to fix this issue. We need to ensure that no more Canadians go through what the Cormier’s did.
If you support my motion, I want to hear about it. You can sign the official petition in support of the motion, or find out more information and keep up to date with its progress by visiting my website at www.blakerichards.ca/motion110.