Maternity and Parental Benefits in Canada: What You Need to Know
Updated July 26, 2020.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when you’re having a child. Moms-to-be always think about diapers, clothes, feeding schedules and baby registries. However, one thing that doesn’t get enough attention is Maternity and Parental Benefits. In Canada, you’re entitled to benefits which help you with pregnancy/childbirth. This helps offset the cost of having children and ease financial stress. Parental benefits are different though. They are given to parents who are taking care of a newborn child or has a newly adopted child. You do NOT need to be a biological parent to receive this benefit.
Getting Maternity and Parental Benefits
To break things down further, the Government of Canada gives you IE (Insurable Employment) payments. In this way, maternity and parental benefits kind of work like getting unemployment payments.
Basically, EI Maternity and Parental Benefits are for biological (not adoptive) mothers who are unable to work. This can be because you’re pregnant or have just given birth. Currently, there are a maximum of 15 weeks available for EI Maternity and Parental Benefits. If you’re having trouble with your pregnancy, it might help for you to know that you can get your benefits up to 12 weeks before your due date.
Parental benefits are different though. These benefits are for parents who are taking care of a newborn child or have a newly adopted child. You do not need to be a biological parent to receive this benefit. These benefits will allow you to spend more time with your child without worrying about lost income.
Maternity and Parental Benefits Payments:
There are two types of parental benefits to choose from. According to the Government of Canada’s website:
- Standard parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 35 weeks and must be claimed within a 52-week period (12 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 55% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of standard parental benefits.
- Extended parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 61 weeks and must be claimed within a 78-week period (18 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 33% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 61 weeks of extended parental benefits.
To put this more simply, standard parental benefits can be paid for if you choose 12 months of maternity leave: The basic rate is 55% of your current income, with a maximum amount of $547 per week.
If you choose 18 months of maternity leave: The basic rate is 33% of your current income to a maximum amount of $328 per week.
Keep in mind that these benefits are taxable. You’ll need to incorporate that into your planning.
Who can get maternity and/or parental leave in Canada?
Employees that pay IE (insurable employment) and have worked at least 600 hours in the last 52 week period are eligible for EI payments. It sounds like a lot, but basically if you’ve worked more than 12 hours a week for the past year, you’re eligible.
On top of that, you need to have your normal weekly earnings reduced by more than 40%. If you work for a magical company that will pay you full salary while you’re on maternity leave, you’re very lucky! But you can’t claim benefits as well.
Keep in mind that the maternity benefits are only available for biological mothers when you’re applying. Parental benefits can be applied for by anyone who is the legal guardian of a newborn child.
You don’t have to be a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident; you’re also eligible if you have a valid working visa.
When should you apply?
You should apply as soon as possible after you stop working. Do not wait for your employer to give you a record of employment (ROE)! Unfortunately, you cannot apply before then, but you should apply as soon as you can.
I hope this was helpful for you! Please keep in mind that the information contained here is for general information purposes only and may not be up to date. You should always consult the Service Canada page before making decisions about your maternity and parental benefits.
You will find all the information you need here: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/types/maternity_parental.shtml#eligible
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