Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 12 - Section 1

12.1.0 Authority

Maternity benefits are intended for birth parents during pregnancy, and for a specific period surrounding the birth of the child. The underlying principle for the payment of these benefits under the current Employment Insurance (EI) program is that birth parents should be provided with a level of protection from the loss of earnings caused by the physical inability to work or to seek work, in the weeks surrounding the birth of a child.

Maternity benefits are therefore paid to the birth parent to compensate for a period of physical inability to work, associated with pregnancy and childbirth. They are distinct from parental benefits, which are paid to parents to provide actual care for a child.

The Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) applies to claims for benefits relating to a birth or adoption of a child, for parents residing in Québec. The EI program applies to any claim relating to a birth or an adoption of a child for parents residing outside Québec.

This does not mean, however, that maternity benefits under the EI program are not payable in Québec or that the impact of the QPIP is limited to Québec.

Among other rules, the principle of equivalence between benefits paid under the QPIP and the EI program, guarantees equity in the processing of claims for EI benefits filed throughout Canada, including Québec. This principle recognizes that maternity or parental benefits paid under the EI program, are similar to benefits paid under a provincial plan. Further details of the QPIP can be found on the Government of Canada website.

12.1.1 General requirements

In order to receive maternity benefits under the EI program, claimants must show that they meet the qualifying and entitlement conditions for this type of benefits. These requirements will be explained throughout this chapter.

The legislative authority to pay maternity benefits reads as follows:

"Notwithstanding section 18, but subject to this section, benefits are payable to a major attachment claimant who proves her pregnancy." (EIA 22(1))

[ August 2021 ]

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