How much maternal and paternal time off you are entitled to depends on the province or territory in which you reside. If you are a federal employee, then the federal legislation will apply to you instead of provincial.
Employment insurance benefits
Employment Insurance does provide maternity and parental benefits to mostly employees who are having a child. There are four situations in which EI is provided for people who are expecting or have given birth:
- Are waiting for a child;
- Have recently given birth;
- Ae adopting a child; or
- are caring for a newborn.
Note: maternity, paternity, parental, and adoption benefits in Quebec are not provided through EI but through a program called Quebec Parental Insurance Program.
Those who are self-employed can claim EI special benefits, including maternity and parental leave, if they have registered for access to the EI program.
You may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) maternity or parental benefits if:
- You are employed in insurable employment;
- You meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or parental benefits;
- Your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%; and
- You have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period or, if you are a self-employed fisher, you have earned enough money during the qualifying period.
As of 2016, the basic rate of EI for most people is at 55%. As of January 1, 2016, maximum insurable earnings are $50,800, which is equal to a weekly benefit of $537 maximum.
How many weeks of maternity/parental leave am I entitled to?
You should always check with your province/territory of residence what how many weeks you are entitled to take for maternity or parental leave.
As stated above, maternity and paternal leave times are regulated through provincial legislation, which are oftentimes similar, but not necessarily the same. Protection of your rights during pregnancy and/or maternal or parental leave includes leave and accommodation at work as well as outside of the workplace.
It’s important to know that women are entitled to both maternity leave plus parental leave, whereas fathers are only entitled to parental leave.
Currently, maternity leave from province/territory to province/territory varies from about 15 to 18 weeks in length. Parental leave usually ranges from 35 to 37 weeks, with Quebec being the highest at 52 weeks.
For example, Alberta has the shortest entitlement amount for maternity leave at 15 weeks but still allows 37 weeks for parental leave.
Saskatchewan is at the higher end of the scale for maternity leave at 18 weeks and also 37 weeks for parental leave.
It’s very important to check the provincial/territorial/federal statutes and government sites to see if the maternity/parental/adoptive leaves entitlements have changed.
If you are having issues with your employer and EI benefit you may want to consult with a lawyer.
EI Maternity and Parental Benefits
Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits