A federal court judge has dismissed an appeal from an Ottawa couple who were denied double parental benefits to care for their twin girls.

Christian Martin and his wife Paula Critchley had each asked to take a full 35 weeks of parental leave — 70 weeks in total — after the births of their daughters, Lucie and Athena, in April 2009.

Martin had argued the Employment Insurance Act was inconsistent and violated the couple's right to equality under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A federal court judge, however, ruled against the couple Thursday with the reasons detailed in a 54-page document.

Justice Marc Nadon ruled the arbitrator’s interpretation of the act was correct, and the family did not have a legitimate argument under the Charter.

Normally, under Canadian law, parents may take a total of 35 weeks of parental leave following a birth or adoption while receiving benefits under Canada's Employment Insurance program, no matter how many children are born to or adopted by the parents at the same time.

But Martin and Critchley had argued since parents of children born a year apart are entitled to two 35-week benefit periods, parents of twins should receive the same amount of time.

Arbitrator had reversed commission's decision

In September 2009, a board of referees of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission awarded the couple 35 weeks each — one for each child.

But in May 2011, an arbitrator overturned that decision, saying the Employment Insurance Act is clear benefits were limited to 35 weeks for "the care of one or more new-born or adopted children as a result of a single pregnancy or placement."

A New Democrat MP has tabled a private member’s bill pushing for more leave for parents of multiple birth babies.

The bill, which has not yet been debated in the House of Commons, proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code and Employment Insurance Act.

NDP MP Sana Hassainia wants parents to have a total of 70 weeks of Employment Insurance benefits and to receive the time simultaneously to allow both parents to stay home for up to 35 weeks.

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  • United States

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>12 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> No national program but cash benefits may be provided at the state level.

  • Iceland

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>3 Months <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80

  • Germany

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>14 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Japan

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>14 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 67

  • Malta

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>14 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • New Zealand

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>14 Weeks Paid, 38 Weeks Unpaid<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Switzerland

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>14 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80

  • Belgium

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>15 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 82 per cent for the first 30 days and 75 per cent for the remaining period.

  • Finland

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>105 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 70

  • Slovenia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>105 Days <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Austria

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>16 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • France

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>16 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Latvia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>112 Days <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Luxembourg

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>16 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Netherlands

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>16 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Spain

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>16 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Greece

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>119 Days <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 50

  • Australia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>18 Weeks <br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> Each parent can take up to 12 months of leave, of which 18 weeks are paid.

  • Lithuania

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>126 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Belarus

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>126 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Moldova

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>126 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Ukraine

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>126 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Romania

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>126 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 85

  • Portugal

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>120 to 150 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> Parental benefits paid at 100 per cent for the shorter duration of leave and 80 per cent for the longer option

  • Estonia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>140 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Poland

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>20 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Russia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>140 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Italy

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>5 Months<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80

  • Bulgaria

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>135 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong>90

  • Hungary

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>24 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 70

  • Ireland

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>26 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80

  • Czech Republic

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>28 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 60

  • Slovakia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>28 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 55

  • Macedonia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>9 Months<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> Not found.

  • Norway

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>36 to 46 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> Parental benefits paid at 100 per cent for the shorter duration of leave and 80 per cent for the longer option.

  • Albania

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>365 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80 per cent prior to birth and for 150 days after and 50 per cent for the rest of the leave period. <i>Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha shown here</i>.

  • Bosnia And Herzegovina

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>1 Year<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 82 per cent for the first 30 days and 75 per cent for the remaining period.

  • Canada

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>52 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 55 per cent at 17 weeks for maternity leave, and the additional 35 weeks can be taken by either parent. Wages also depend on province.

  • Croatia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>1 Year<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Denmark

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>52 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • Serbia

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>52 Weeks<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 100

  • United Kingdom

    52 Weeks 90 (p)

  • Sweden

    <strong>Length Of Maternity Leave: </strong>420 Days<br><strong>Percentage Of Wages Paid:</strong> 80