11/07/2012 03:11 EST | Updated 01/07/2013 05:12 EST

NDP MP urges more leave for parents of multiple births

A New Democrat MP is pushing for more leave for parents of multiple birth babies, tabling a private member's bill that would allow them to take 70 weeks of Employment Insurance benefits and receive their time simultaneously to allow both parents to stay home for up to 35 weeks.

Sana Hassainia says the plan would let parents bond better with their newborns or newly adopted children and would be beneficial to employers if the mother recovers from the birth faster.

The legislation would allow parents to take a longer leave, up to 72 weeks, in the case of multiple births or adoptions, according to a press release. It would also increase the number of weeks of EI parental benefits from 35 to 70. Parents could choose to receive their benefits for 35 weeks simultaneously or could choose to extend their benefits over 70 weeks for one of them.

Hassainia plans to take her campaign on the road starting next week and will hold public consultations on the bill.

It's just the first stage in a very long process, however, with private members bills usually facing the added challenge of not being supported by the government. Hassainia's bill will have to make it through several stages of debate, plus committee study, in both the House of Commons and the Senate before it would become a law.

Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says she has to read the bill before she decides whether to support it.

Kimberley Weatherall, executive director of Multiple Births Canada and the mother of 25-year-old twins, says having one baby is incomparable to the experience parents face when caring for two or more.

The strain on a family unit can become overwhelming, she said.

Christian Martin, a father of twins, is fighting the current rules for Employment Insurance benefits. His case is now before the Federal Court of Appeal.

"If we can see a change to this system where parents of multiples get fair treatment, it will help them financially and help them take time out for their children, it's good for society, it's good for everyone," he said.