Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 12 - Section 4

12.4.0 Maternity benefits with respect to other provisions

A claim for maternity benefits is unique in terms of the impact certain provisions of the Employment Insurance Act have during the period a claimant is in receipt of those benefits. These situations are covered in the sections that follow.

12.4.1 Regular benefits within the maternity period

The fact that an individual is pregnant or has given birth, does not automatically render that person unavailable for or incapable of work. On the contrary, they can request and be paid regular benefits within the maternity period (or even move back and forth between regular and maternity benefits), provided that during the period they claim regular benefits, they are able to prove their availability and capability for work (EIA 18(a)). The principles regarding availability in cases of maternity benefits are discussed in section 10.10.4 of this digest.

Regular benefits are not payable to a claimant who could not qualify to establish a benefit period for regular benefits, and only qualifies for maternity benefits pursuant to the regulatory exception (EIR 93). These claimants can only receive special benefits, within their benefit period.

The Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) provides specific rules in terms of entitlement to maternity benefits. As well, pursuant to EIR 76.09(3), a person who has received benefits from the QPIP with respect to the birth or adoption of a child, or has made a claim and is entitled to such benefits, is not entitled to any types of EI benefits for the weeks during which the QPIP benefits are paid.

12.4.2 Fishing claims

Individuals who earn their insurable employment in fishing may be able to establish a claim for maternity benefits based on their insurable employment in fishing. A fisher will be entitled to EI maternity benefits if they are major attached, that is, have $3760 or more of insurable earnings as a fisher, in their qualifying period (EIA 22(1); EIR (Fishing) 1(1)).

The maximum number of weeks of regular fishing benefits, combined with special benefits, is limited to 50. However, when regular benefits were not paid, fishers may be entitled to receive additional special benefits, depending on the types of special benefits paid in a benefit period (EIR (Fishing) 8(17), (17.1) and (18); Digest 12.2.1).

The rules in place regarding the QPIP also apply to fishing claims.

12.4.3 While disqualified or disentitled

A disqualification, or certain disentitlements, will not prevent the payment of EI maternity benefits. This is because the act provides for the deferral or suspension of any disqualification and certain disentitlements during the period the claimant is in receipt of maternity benefits (EIA 28(5); EIA 30(4); EIA 36(3); EIA 34).

12.4.4 Labour dispute

Under the EI program, a claimant who is subject to disentitlement because of a labour dispute at their place of employment may have that disentitlement suspended in order to receive maternity benefits. However, these claimants must prove entitlement to maternity benefits (EIA 36(1); EIA 36(3)).

Before the disentitlement can be suspended, a claimant who would otherwise be entitled to maternity benefits, were it not for the labour dispute, must prove that, before the start of the labour dispute, their absence from work was foreseen, and arrangements to be off work due to maternity leave had begun with the employer (EIA 36(3)). The claimant's declaration as to the pregnancy, and the actual or expected date of the child’s birth, submitted with the claim for benefits, is acceptable proof, as it establishes that the claimant had anticipated a leave of absence for maternity.

A disentitlement imposed as a result of a labour dispute cannot be suspended in the case of a person who, during the work stoppage, is entitled to receive benefits from the QPIP; as a general rule, this person cannot otherwise prove that they are entitled to EI maternity or parental benefits.

Claimants who are on maternity leave at the time a stoppage of work occurs, will not be affected by the provisions related to labour disputes. However, a disentitlement may be imposed at the end of the maternity/parental leave period if the claimant is unable to resume their previous employment due to a stoppage of work attributable to a labour dispute (EIA 36(1)).

12.4.5 Teaching and non-teaching period

Teachers may receive EI maternity benefits during both the teaching and non-teaching periods, provided all entitlement criteria for the payment of those benefits, are met (EIR 33).

The rules relating to the QPIP apply in the context of teachers; they specify, among other things, that a person who is entitled under a provincial plan, to receive benefits in respect of a birth or an adoption, is generally disentitled from receiving maternity or parental benefits under the EI program (EIR 76.09(1)).

12.4.6 Outside Canada

A maternity claimant who is outside Canada temporarily or permanently, is entitled to maternity benefits, unless their social insurance number has expired. A claimant in receipt of these benefits is not required to prove availability for work, and as such, will not be disentitled for the sole reason that they are out of the country (EIR 55(4)).

[ August 2021 ]

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