Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, has voiced her frustration with the reluctance of certain ruling parties to overhaul the family leave system in Finland.
Grahn-Laasonen reminds in a blog entry that the country’s birth rate slumped to a historic low last year after decreasing for six consecutive years, leaving smaller municipalities in a particularly difficult situation.
Statistics Finland in April reported that the number of births fell by almost five per cent (4.8%) from the previous year – the highest relative decrease since the beginning of the 1970s – to approximately 53,000 in 2016.
Grahn-Laasonen argues that the country must take action to also clear away the “invisible obstacles” to starting a family if it is intent on raising the birth rate.
“The government cannot turn into babies,” she states. “A solid family policy combined with new flexibilities and better management in the working life could contribute significantly towards raising the birth rate in Finland and fulfilling the dreams of many families of having a child.”
Grahn-Laasonen believes the new family leave system should enable families to retain their freedom of choice, protect the interests of their children and find a better balance between work and family life. The objective of the reform, she adds, should also be to increase flexibilities, promote female employment and guarantee the rights of children to early-childhood education.
“It is regrettable and harmful to families that not all parties are prepared to do this. There are more than one proposals that would be good for children and families. If only we also had the political will,” she laments.
The Finnish government was expected to announce revisions to the family leave system after its mid-term session in April. The three ruling parties, however, failed to find an agreement on the issue, with the Finns Party refusing to budge on home care allowances, a key feature of many of the proposals to reform the family leave system.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi