Legislation giving new dads an extra five weeks at home with their newborns has existed in Canada for about a month, but stigmas around paternal leave still linger.
Before the changes took effect on March 17, parents could split 35 weeks between them. A lot of new dads likely hesitated to take time out of their partner's pool, but that won’t be as much of an obstacle now.
Immediately after the new rule came into effect, Dove Men+Care launched a digital campaign to see if traditional views of fatherhood and masculinity would keep fathers from staying home.
Ads that were paraphrased from actual online comments were used, and people were asked if they agree or disagree online Dove Men+Care’s site and through social media.
Examples included “Paternity Leave is for wimps” and “Fathers use paternity leave as a vacation.”
The results showed the majority of the 69,000 respondents disagreed with the negative statements around paternity leave:
“Paternity Leave is for Wimps”
Agree: 8 per cent
Disagree: 92 per cent
“Fathers just use Paternity Leave as a vacation”
Agree: 12 per cent
Disagree: 88 per cent
“Paternity Leave? No, bonding is for weekends”
Agree: 24 per cent
Disagree: 76 per cent
“Paternity Leave? Dads pay bills to support their family”
Agree: 33 per cent
Disagree: 67 per cent
“Dads don’t breastfeed. They don’t need Paternity Leave”
Agree: 5 per cent
Disagree: 95 per cent
Dove Men+Care is hoping the campaign will spark a conversation that can help Canadians reevaluate their views around parental leave, so more men feel comfortable using it.
“With Canada’s new parental leave policies, we think it’s an important moment to encourage Canadians to take the time to change the conversation around parental leave,” said Leslie Golts, marketing lead at Dove’s parent company, Unilever.
“The results demonstrate that, while the image of fatherhood is evolving, there’s still a lot of work to do to make paternity leave stigmas a thing of the past.”
As part of the campaign, Dove Men+Care sponsored a study into what new dads want.
It found more than 9 in 10 Canadian men (93 per cent) agree that it is a father’s responsibility to be heavily involved in caring for his children and more than 4 in 5 Canadian men (83 per cent) agree that a father should put his children before his career.
While Canadian fathers/fathers-to-be want to take more paternity leave, they are afraid taking time off will negatively impact their finances (75 per cent) and their relationships with their managers at work (51 per cent).
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains