Parental leave requirements for Canadian entrepreneurs make no sense

Erin Bury (Willful) and Marie Chevrier (Sampler) discuss dumb restrictions and ongoing stigmas.

Recently on the BetaKit Podcast, we talked to Chelsea Fagan about the death of the Girlboss—a fraught term that drew a lot of public attention and discourse. In some ways it was a distraction that obfuscated the important conversations that need to be had about women entrepreneurs and women in tech generally.

Like the conversation on this week’s episode, which features Erin Bury, CEO and co-founder of Willful, and Marie Chevrier, founder and CEO of Sampler.

“There is especially in tech still a stigma around being a parent and being a contributing member of a company.”

In addition to scaling their businesses, both have incubated enterprises of a different sort. And both ran into challenges when they tried to access the parental support available to all other Canadians—simply because they’re entrepreneurs. In Marie’s case, she was denied maternity leave benefits; in Erin’s case, it was actually her husband and co-founder who was denied those benefits.

And while we discuss the byzantine requirements for Canadian entrepreneurs to receive parental leave benefits on this podcast, it’s not just about the entrepreneurs. It may surprise you, but my co-host Rob Kenedi has kids, and on this podcast he discusses some of the decisions he had to navigate as an employee of various tech companies. It’s also not just a pure benefits conversation: it’s about board support, investor support, and company-wide support so people can make the right decision for them and their family.

The BetaKit Podcast is sponsored by Zoholics Canada 2023.
Zoholics is Zoho’s premier user conference. Taking place in Toronto September 12-13, this year’s Zoholics features exclusive insights, hands-on training, personalised 1-on-1 sessions and networking opportunities. Get your ticket today and use the code “BETAKIT25” for a 25% discount!

That’s a big tent, inclusive message, but I want to swing back to how I started this conversation. According to a March 2021 report by RBC, nearly half a million Canadian women who left the workforce during the pandemic have not returned to work; the tough decisions are not evenly distributed.

As Marie put it to the Canadian Press in a recent profile, when she found out she didn’t qualify for maternity benefits, she “didn’t have the energy to be upset.” As a founder myself that strikes a chord, and I only have cats.

But Marie has the energy on this . And I think we should all listen to what she has to say.

Let’s dig in.

Related articles:
Willful’s Erin Bury shares how to prepare for parental leave as a founder
My journey to parenthood as a founder and CEO
New report shares stories of the biases women entrepreneurs face raising capital

The BetaKit Podcast is recorded at StartWell, which provides turn-key meeting spaces, event venues, and an integrated media production studio.
Visit for more information.

Subscribe via: RSS, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, YouTube

The BetaKit Podcast is hosted by Douglas Soltys & Rob Kenedi. Produced & edited by Kattie Laur. Feature image courtesy Erin Bury and Kevin Oulds.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

0 replies on “Parental leave requirements for Canadian entrepreneurs make no sense”