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CUPE applauded this afternoon the tabling of a private bill by NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice (a former CUPE staff member) that would extend provincial measures governing the paid protective reassignment of pregnant employees to workers under federal jurisdiction. This would include areas such as air and rail transportation, banking, communications, ports and armoured car services.

At present, protective reassignment means that pregnant workers in occupations subject to the Canada Labour Code receive Employment Insurance benefits equivalent to 55 per cent of their pay. For every week of benefits, their maternity leave is reduced by a week. In essence, this amounts to leave without pay.

This causes economic hardship, forcing many pregnant women to continue working and put themselves and their foetus at risk. If adopted, the bill would give all working women in Quebec the same access to paid protective reassignment. Currently, those in occupations subject to the Quebec Labour Code are eligible for CSST benefits equivalent to 90 per cent of their pay.

CUPE has long been demanding this equal treatment for Quebec female workers under federal jurisdiction. In the airline sector, for example, a number of flight attendants have had to make the difficult choice between their financial situation and health risks. Since it is the health of pregnant women and unborn children that is at stake, we are counting on all MPs in the House of Commons to support this excellent initiative and leave partisanship out of it,” says Nathalie Stringer, a flight attendant and president of the Air Transat Component of CUPE.