The much-anticipated legislation around Employment Insurance (EI) maternity benefits, parental leave, and caregiver benefits comes into effect Dec 3, 2017. This implementation date was recently announced by Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. The Canada Labour Code has been amended to include these recent changes. And, for employees in federally-regulated workplaces, they can choose the extended benefit option as of Dec 3, 2017, with job protection. For provincially-regulated workers, selecting the 18-month option as of Dec. 3, will not have the same job protection until their province or territory amends their individual labour codes.
Expectant mothers NOW receive benefits at 12 weeks prior to their expected due date
There is no change in the benefit amount paid and eligibility rules also remain the same: A new parent requires 600 hours of work in the previous 12 months to gain access to benefits.
EI parental benefits and leaves spread over a longer period of time
Biological and adoptive parents can choose between two options for parental benefits. There is no change in the overall value of the benefits or eligibility requirements. This change means that eligible mothers and fathers, who begin their parental leave on or after Dec 3, 2017, can opt to extend their benefits over a longer period of time or split the leave between parents.
- Standard: up to 35 weeks of EI benefits over a period of up to 12 months at 55% average weekly earnings, to a maximum of $543 per week, ending a year after the child is born or placed with the family.
- Extended: up to 61 weeks of EI benefits over a period of up to 18 months at a 33% average weekly earnings, to a maximum of $326 per week, ending 78 weeks after the child is born or placed with the family.
*The maternity and parental benefits do not apply to residents of Quebec, as they have a separate provincial plan.
EI caregiving benefits – for those who leave work to care for a family member
- Family Caregiver benefit for adults: Allows for 15 weeks of benefits to care for an adult family member (18 years of age or older) who is critically ill, within a year.
- Family Caregiver benefit for children: Allows for 35 weeks of benefits to care for a child (under 18 years of age) who is critically ill, extending past parents to include any extended family member or individuals considered to be “like family,” within a year.
- Compassionate Care benefits have not changed. These benefits allow for 26 weeks of benefits for Canadians who are off work to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death, within the next 26 weeks.
Nurse practitioners and doctors will be able to sign medical certificates to declare a child is critically ill, rather than the specialist doctors who can do so now. Their submission is also acceptable for compassionate care benefits.