MONTREAL, JUNE 12, 2023 – While the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux continues to develop its perinatal and early childhood action plan, the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la périnatalité – which brings together Quebec organizations that care about the situation of families and toddlers – is taking the opportunity during the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité to call for the full integration of paternal and co-parental realities into the service trajectory offered to Quebec parents from the moment a woman learns she is pregnant.
The working group targets structural barriers that often limit the participation of fathers and co-parents during the perinatal period, placing the responsibility for pregnancy and birth primarily on the shoulders of mothers, which, it maintains, contributes to an unequal division of the mental load from the outset.
In the words of Raymond Villeneuve, executive director of the Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité and initiator of the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la périnatalité:
All too often, in the trajectory of perinatal services, fathers and co-parents play a supporting role and are not direct beneficiaries of services. Right from the start, it’s as if they are told that they play a peripheral role while mothers are told that the whole burden falls on them. This is the wrong message to send in 2023.
Adopting a co-parenting approach
More than 900 stakeholders including professionals and mothers, fathers, and parents signed a statement of principles affirming that the co-parenting approach is a powerful driver of social transformation: strengthening equality between mothers and fathers, promoting work-life-study balance for all parents, offering children more egalitarian role models, and working to transmit these values within families and society. The co-parenting approach involves taking into account the needs of each of the co-parents and fostering greater collaboration between them.
This consensus is widely endorsed by parents themselves. Questioned in a Leger survey last March, 96% of parents feel it is important that there be services designed to support fathers. A similar proportion (94% of fathers and 97% of mothers) believes that increased paternal engagement from conception onwards is a good way to better share the mental load of childcare responsibilities. What is more, 94% of fathers and 95% of mothers agree that increased engagement during this period promotes better baby development.
Strengthening the protective net
A more inclusive approach to the needs of all parents, particularly psychosocial needs, would also make it possible to detect situations likely to cause vulnerability within families more quickly, and enable intervention before such situations occur in order to reduce the harmful consequences for the baby’s development.
Marie-Claude Dufour, executive director of the Réseau des Centres de ressources périnatales du Québec explains:
The arrival of a baby marks a major transition in a parent’s life. It’s a mistake to think that all parents will adapt easily. When difficulties arise, they often lack points of reference. For example, we know that 15-20% of mothers and almost 10% of fathers experience postnatal depression. Eight percent of babies are born prematurely, while it is estimated that at least 20,000 families lose a baby every year. Difficulties during pregnancy or in the child’s first two years of life are more common than we think, and community and institutional services need to be on hand.
A societal project
The working group is counting on the convergent action of the main societal drivers that enable us to act directly on practices – the service trajectory, public policies, research, training, and societal promotion. Its proposals form a true societal project aimed at strengthening the environment in which babies are born and grow.
“In Quebec, in 2023, the engagement of all parents is desired, and, consequently, deserves to be supported. Isn’t it one of society’s finest projects to ensure that every baby can benefit from the full support of each of its parents?” asks Raymond Villeneuve.
For more information on the Comité de travail national sur les pères et la périnatalité and to consult the proposals document, go to:
About the Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité
The RVP is a group of 250 organizations and individuals from all regions of Quebec whose mandate is to promote paternal engagement for the well-being of children, from a family perspective and with respect for gender equality. The RVP’s objective is to enable the integration of the realities of fathering into family services and public policies in Quebec.
Be a Team Right from the Start, the 11th edition of the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité
For its 11th edition, the Semaine Québécoise de la Paternité will take place from June 12 to 18, 2023, under the theme Be a Team Right from the Start. This theme aims to raise awareness in Quebec society of the importance of paternal engagement and co-parenting during the perinatal period. Follow our daily posts on social media.
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