At the Economic and Employment Summit, Québec employers were favourable to the implementation of a Québec Parental Insurance Plan.
Likewise, union and social partners approved the project. They set up the “Regroupement pour un système d'assurance parentale” – a coalition of fifteen organizations representing unionized and non-union workers, self-employed workers as well as citizens concerned with the living conditions of families.
Québec advised Ottawa of its intention to implement its own parental insurance system. In December, Ottawa expressed its readiness to negotiate the matter with Québec.
Québec and Ottawa held seven bargaining sessions between March 24 and July 22. Three major points remained unresolved and the negotiations failed. In August, Québec was forced to delay the implementation of the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.
The federal government announced its intention to bolster the employment insurance system with regard to maternity benefits, parental benefits and adoption benefits. The upgraded system came into effect on December 31, 2000.
Québec decided to contest, before the Court of Appeal of Québec, the constitutionality of the maternity benefits, parental benefits and adoption benefits granted under the Employment Insurance Act.
At the Sommet du Québec et de la jeunesse, all groups reiterated the importance of having a parental insurance system in Québec and agreed to firmly support the Québec government’s efforts in that direction.
In May, the Act respecting parental insurance is unanimously adopted by the National Assembly.
The Court of Appeal rules in Québec’s favour.
Ottawa appeals the decision before the Supreme Court of Canada.
On March 11, Québec and Ottawa resume negotiations. They sign an agreement in principle on May 21, by which a final agreement would be concluded by February 1, 2005, at the latest.
On March 1, Québec and Ottawa sign the Canada-Québec Final Agreement on the Parental Insurance Plan - a crucial step in implementing the System.
On June 16, the Act to amend the Act respecting parental insurance and other legislative provisions is adopted by the National Assembly.
On October 20, the Supreme Court of Canada renders its decision. It rejects Québec’s arguments to the effect that maternity benefits, parental benefits and adoption benefits paid under the Employment Insurance Act overstep Québec’s jurisdiction and exceed that of the Parliament of Canada. The decision has no effect whatsoever on the terms of the Québec Parental Insurance Plan, because the Canada-Québec Final Agreement continues to have precedence.
The Québec Parental Insurance Plan comes into effect on January 1.