Backgrounder: Information for EI claimants
EI maternity benefits and leaves
The Employment Insurance (EI) program provides temporary income support to replace lost employment income for individuals who are off work due to pregnancy and childbirth, and caring for a newborn or newly adopted child.
EI maternity benefits provide up to 15 weeks of benefits to EI-eligible birth mothers, including surrogates, related to childbearing and to support physical and/or emotional recovery during the weeks surrounding the birth. These benefits are currently payable as early as 8 weeks prior to the expected week of birth of the child.
Since December 3, 2017, pregnant workers have been able to claim the existing 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits as early as 12 weeks before the expected week of birth of the child, up from the former 8 weeks. This provides pregnant workers with more flexibility to better take into account their personal, health and workplace circumstances when choosing when to begin receiving their maternity benefits.
Maternity benefits continue to be paid at the current benefit rate of 55 percent of average weekly earnings up to a maximum amount.
EI parental benefits and leaves
For children born or placed for adoption since December 3, 2017, claimants have had the option to choose the standard parental benefit, as originally provided in the Employment Insurance Act, or an extended parental benefit which provides a lower benefit rate over a longer duration (up to 18 months).
- Standard parental benefit:
Receiving EI parental benefits over a period of up to 12 months, at a benefit rate of 55 percent of average weekly earnings, for up to 35 weeks, up to a maximum amount.
These weeks of benefits are payable in the period that begins the week in which the child or children of the claimant are born or the child or children are placed with the claimant for the purpose of adoption, and ends 52 weeks later.
- Extended parental benefits
Receiving EI parental benefits over a period of up to 18 months, at a lower benefit rate of 33 percent of average weekly earnings, for up to 61 weeks, up to a maximum amount.
These weeks of benefits are payable in the period that begins the week in which the child or children of the claimant are born or the child or children are placed with the claimant for the purpose of adoption, and ends 78 weeks later.
Parents need to choose the same parental benefit (standard or extended) when applying for EI benefits and indicate how many weeks they each plan to take. Parents are able to receive the benefits at the same time or separately. The choice of standard or extended benefits by the first claimant who completes the EI application’s selection (on a complete application) is binding for the two claimants.
Once parental benefits have begun being paid on a claim, even as little as $1, the parent’s choice is irrevocable and not subject to reconsideration or appeal under the Employment Insurance Act.
Since 2006, the Québec Parental Insurance Plan offers maternity, parental, adoption and paternity benefits to residents of the province of Quebec. Accordingly, Quebec residents are not eligible for EI maternity or parental benefits. The Plan is the only federal–provincial agreement related to maternity and parental benefits currently in place.
EI caregiving benefits:
Family caregiver benefits
- Family caregiver benefit for adults
Since December 3, 2017, the new family caregiver benefit for adults announced in Budget 2017 allows eligible Canadians to receive up to 15 weeks of benefits to provide care or support to an adult family member 18 years of age or older who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).
- Family caregiver benefit for children
Up to 35 weeks of benefits continues to be available while providing care or support to a child under 18 years of age who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and who has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).
Since December 3, 2017, this benefit, formerly known as the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit, has been renamed the family caregiver benefit for children. Eligibility was extended to any eligible family member providing care to the child, rather than being limited to parents. The definition of family member will be broadened to include relatives beyond the immediate family and individuals who are not relatives but are considered to be like family. For example, an aunt or uncle could be eligible to receive the benefit to provide care to a critically ill child. These changes were introduced to accommodate the needs of diverse family situations and provide enhanced flexibility and access to this benefit.
Medical doctors and nurse practitioners are allowed to sign a medical certificate to certify that a child is critically ill, rather than only specialist medical doctors.
Claimants can share these family caregiver benefits either concurrently or separately, and receive their benefits when most needed within a 52-week period.
Compassionate care benefit
The compassionate care benefit provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to individuals who are away from work to care for or support a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks.
If the health condition of the family member deteriorates, caregivers could receive the family caregiver benefit followed by the compassionate care benefit.
Effective December 3, 2017, a medical certificate signed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner will be acceptable when applying for the compassionate care benefit.
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