Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, discussed the National Coalition’s platform for the upcoming parliamentary elections in a press conference in Helsinki on Thursday, 28 February. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


OVERHAULING the Finnish family leave system must be on the agenda of the next government, according to the National Coalition.

“The family leave reform is a key objective for the National Coalition. Chairperson [Petteri Orpo] has defined it as a threshold issue. A family leave reform is needed in Finland,” Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (NCP), the Minister of Education, stated in a press conference in Helsinki on Thursday.

Grahn-Laasonen, a deputy chairperson of the National Coalition, emphasised that the reform must aim to promote parental equality, employment for women and make easier the daily lives of families with children. The National Coalition, she added, is willing to sit down to find an agreement that is satisfactory also to other parties.

The objectives raise questions particularly about the child home care allowance, which can be claimed by parents as long as their child is under three years old.

“Our family leave system would make also the third year possible, but it would also increase flexibility and possibilities for parents,” said Grahn-Laasonen.

The National Coalition is, in practice, proposing that the child home care allowance be transformed into a monthly 800-euro care allowance that would be available to parents for six months. Parents, however, would also be able to choose to receive only half of the benefit on a monthly basis to extend the benefit period to 12 months.

By halving both the care allowance and earnings-related parental benefits, parents would be able to receive benefits for up to three years.

Minister of Finance Orpo pointed out that the family leave reform would also be a means to tackle the sliding birth rate in Finland.

“We have to pay attention overall to the services provided to families with children, to the package that young families and parents weigh up when considering if they dare to start realising their dreams when it comes to having children,” he said.

The National Coalition on Thursday also announced its intention to promote participation in early-childhood education and declared its support for a two-year, 20-hour-a-week early-childhood education curriculum.

“It’d be an act for equality,” Orpo said, explaining that currently children can embark on their journey through primary education from very distinct starting points depending on their family background.

“Every young girl and boy must be brought into the world’s best education system at a young age, [and] into the two-year early-childhood education programme at the age of five,” he said.

“That’s one of our key election promises and few money-related promises,” stated Orpo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi