In recent decades, the gender makeup of Canadian medical residents has approached parity. As residency training years coincide closely with childbearing years and paid parental leave is associated with numerous benefits for both parents and children, it is important for there to be clarity about parental leave benefits.
We aimed to conduct a comprehensive review of maternity and parental leave policies in all residency education programs in Canada, to highlight gaps that might be improved or areas in which Canadian programs excel.
We searched websites of the 8 provincial housestaff organizations (PHOs) for information regarding pregnancy workload accommodations, maternity leave, and parental leave policies in each province in effect as of January 2020. We summarized the policies and analyzed their readability using the Flesch Reading Ease.
All Canadian PHOs provide specific accommodations around maternity and parental leave for medical residents. All organizations offer at least 35 weeks of total leave, while only 3 PHOs offer extended leave of about 63 weeks, in line with federal regulations. All but 2 PHOs offer supplemental income to their residents, although not for the full duration of offered leave. All PHOs offer workplace accommodations for pregnant residents in their second and/or third trimester.
Although all provinces had some form of leave, significant variability was found in the accommodations, duration of leave, and financial benefits provided to medical residents on maternity and parental leave across Canada. There is a lack of clarity in policy documents, which may be a barrier to optimal uptake.