Federal Government Extending Maternity Leave to 18 Months


While most people are deeply appreciative of Canada's generous parental benefits, some new parents have wished for a little more time at home with their babies.

Now, it appears their wish has been granted.

The federal government's 2017 budget proposes to make EI parental benefits more flexible by allowing parents the option of receiving benefits for up to 18 months (rather than the usual 12).

To be clear, parents who choose to use the whole 18 months will not receive the same benefits throughout. According to the budget, benefits will continue to be available at the existing rate of 55 per cent of average weekly earnings for the first 12 months, but will decrease to 33 per cent once the one year period is up.

The government says that making EI parental benefits more flexible will cost approximately $152 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, and $27.5 million per year thereafter.

The budget also proposes to allow women to claim EI maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date--expanded from the current standard of eight weeks--if they so choose.

The additional flexibility is expected to cost $43.1 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, and $9.2 million per year thereafter.

To implement these measures, the government is proposing an amendment to the Employment Insurance Act. The government is also proposing to amend the Canada Labour Code to “ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors have the job protection they need while they are receiving caregiving, parental or maternity benefits.”

So, there you have it—you can collect a portion of your salary for 18 months rather than 12, but the compensation will be somewhat leaner.

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