Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 24 - Section 11
24.11.0 Parental benefits
Parental benefits are offered to support parents who take time away from their business to care for a newborn or an adopted child(ren). Benefits may be shared between parents (EIA 152.05(12)).
24.11.1 Who can receive parental benefits
Parental benefits for the self-employed are payable to claimants who meet the conditions required to establish a benefit period, who care for a newborn child or an adopted child(ren) and who provide a declaration as to the newborn's date of birth. When there is an adoption, they must provide the child's date of placement for the purpose of the adoption, and the name and address of the adoption authority (EIA 152.05(1)).
Detailed information explaining access to parental benefits for placement and adoption is available in section 13.1.2 of the Digest. However, that chapter contains references to section 23 of the Employment Insurance Act, which applies to parental benefits being paid under Part I (for insured employment). For the purposes of the Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits for Self-Employed Program, the applicable legislative provisions for placement and adoption are covered by subsection 152.05 of the Employment Insurance Act.
In relation to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), a self-employed person who is entitled to receive benefits from a provincial plan in respect to the birth or the adoption of a child is disentitled to parental benefits under the EI program (EIR 76.36(1)).
This disentitlement does not apply when the amount of provincial benefits that the self-employed person is entitled to receive under a provincial plan is not substantially equivalent to the amount of benefits that they would be entitled to under the Employment Insurance Act. A regulatory provision makes it possible to pay weekly EI parental benefits in addition to the provincial benefits so that the global amount of the benefits is at least equivalent to the amount of benefits he/she would otherwise have been entitled to under the Employment Insurance Act (EIR 76.36(2)).
A person who has received or is entitled to receive benefits from a provincial plan will see their EI benefits reduced by an amount equal to those provincial benefits in addition to any other deduction (EIR 76.37, EIR 76.38; EIA 152.05(11), EIA152.18).
24.11.2 First entitlement condition: declaration of birth or placement
The claimant must provide a declaration as to the newborn's date of birth, or, when there is an adoption, the child's date of placement for the purpose of the adoption, and the name and address of the adoption authority.
24.11.3 Week in which the child is born, or actually placed with the claimant
Under the EI program, the legislation provides that payments of parental benefits can only begin with the week in which the child or children of the claimant are born or the child or children are actually placed with the claimant for the purpose of adoption (EIA 152.05(2)).
Detailed information explaining the week in which the child is placed with the claimant is available in section 13.1.5 of the Digest but that chapter contains references to section 23 of the Employment Insurance Act, which applies to parental benefits being paid under Part I (for insured employment). For the purposes of the EI Benefits for Self-Employed Program, the applicable legislative provisions for placement and adoption are covered by subsection 152.05 of the Employment Insurance Act.
24.11.4 Second entitlement condition: to care for a child
Under the EI program, parental benefits are payable to parents to care for one or more newborn children or one or more children placed with the claimant for the purpose of adoption.
Parental benefits therefore provide a means of financial support allowing a parent(s) to be away from work entirely, or to an extent that they would still be considered unemployed during weeks they are receiving benefits to care for the child (EIR 30(1)).
Parental legislation has evolved over the years to where it no longer refers to "remaining at home" to care for the child. It is unreasonable to expect a parent to cease all regular activity and simply remain at home for 35 or 61 weeks to care for the child. While the intent of the legislation is to allow the parent to bond with and care for the child, when the parent is providing for the needs of the child the requirement of caring for the child is met. This means a claimant may leave the home for periods and continue to receive parental benefits, whether the child is with the parent during these activities or not.
A reasoned approach should be taken and each case should be decided on its own merit having regard for the intent to allow a parent to care for the child. It has been argued that a child who is admitted to hospital cannot be considered to be in the care of the parent, therefore no entitlement to parental benefits exists. The reality of this situation is that the parent continues to be responsible for the child. Furthermore, in many cases the parent's presence and assistance is specifically requested by either the doctor or the hospital.
This same reasoning holds true for those claimants who decide to take a vacation while in receipt of parental benefits. Because payment of these benefits has no tie to availability, a claimant on vacation can be entitled to parental benefits.
24.11.5 Payment of parental benefits
188.8.131.52 Waiting period
A one-week waiting period must be served in respect of one newborn or adoptive child when an initial benefit period is established and before parental benefits can be paid (EIA 152.15).
The waiting period may be waived if, after having ceased work, the claimant received sick leave paid by an employer. When the claimant works for more than one employer, if they were paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings for the same employer the conditions have been met to waive the waiting period.
When the first parent made a claim for benefits, served the waiting period, and during this benefit period claims maternity and/or parental benefits, the waiting period can be deferred for any other parent claiming parental benefits in respect of the same child (EIA 152.05(14)). When parents decide to share parental benefits and apply simultaneously, they may choose which one will serve the waiting period, allowing the other parent to defer their waiting period.
Deferring a waiting period is different from waiving one. If a waiting period is deferred, it must eventually be served before a parent can receive other types of benefits such as regular (for Part I claimants), sickness, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits on the same claim (EIA 152.05(14)). However, a waiting period can be deferred on a second benefit period that is established so that the claimant receives all parental benefits that the legislation allows within the parental window.
If the waiting period was waived for the first parent, the other parent would be required to serve the waiting period, unless the latter meets the conditions to have the waiting period waived.
Employment Insurance Regulation 76.22 authorizes waiving the waiting period where benefits have been paid under a provincial plan such as the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.
184.108.40.206 Limits to the number of weeks payable
There are 2 options for receiving parental benefits, standard and extended parental benefits.
Standard parental benefits are payable for a maximum of 35 weeks at a benefit rate of 55% of a claimant's weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. The benefits must be claimed within 52 weeks after the week the child is born or placed for the purpose of adoption (EIA 152.14(1)(b), EIA 152.05(2)).
Extended parental benefits are payable for a maximum of 61 weeks at a lower benefit rate of 33% of a claimant's weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. The benefits must be claimed within 78 weeks after the week the child is born or placed for the purpose of adoption (EIA 152.14(1)(b), EIA 152.05(2)).
The implementation of the parental sharing benefit on March 17, 2019 added weeks to standard and extended parental benefits. If more than one parent requests parental benefits for the same child, they can claim an additional 5 weeks of standard parental or an additional 8 weeks of extended parental benefits. This increases the maximum shareable standard parental benefits to 40 weeks and the maximum shareable extended parental benefits to 69 weeks (EIA 152.05(12). This applies even if one parent makes a claim for benefits under Part I and the other parent makes a claim under Part VII.1 (EIA 23(4.1)). However, one claimant cannot receive more than 35 standard weeks or 61 extended weeks of parental benefits per birth or placement and per benefit period.
Parents sharing benefits are required to select the same option, either standard or extended. The option chosen by the first parent who completes the EI application binds the other parent(s) to the same option (EIA 152.05(1.3)). Once parental benefits have been paid on a claim, the claimant's choice to receive standard or extended parental benefit is irrevocable (EIA 152.05(1.2)).
The Quebec Parental Insurance Plan introduced a principle of equivalence for the purposes of the EI program, which applies to EI special benefits for the self-employed. Each week of provincial benefits paid to a self-employed person in a benefit period is considered as a week for which benefits are paid under the EI program if the claimant would have been entitled to the corresponding benefits under the EI program (EIR 76.36). Accordingly, each of these weeks is considered in calculating the overall maximum number of weeks of EI parental benefits payable during a benefit period and in calculating the maximum number of weeks of EI benefits payable with regard to a birth or an adoption (please see the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on the Government of Canada website).
Eligible parents can also share the number of weeks of parental benefits payable under the EI program and the parental or adoption benefits payable under a provincial plan, such as the QPIP for the same birth or adoption of a child (EIR 76.42). However, the maximum number of weeks of benefits that can be paid under the EI program cannot exceed the maximum number of 40 weeks less the number of weeks of benefits that have been paid to the other parent (taking into account any weeks of benefits that are paid at the accelerated rate under the provincial plan (EIR 76.42(3)).
In cases of extended parental benefits, the maximum number of weeks of benefits that can be paid to a parent is determined by using the following formula (A – B) x C ÷ D, where:
- A is 40, the maximum number of weeks of standard parental benefits when the weeks of benefits are shared (EIA 152.14(2)(b)(i))
- B is the number of weeks of benefits that are paid to the claimant governed by the provincial plan (taking into account, where appropriate, the weeks of benefits that are paid at the accelerated rate under the provincial plan) (EIR 76.4(3))
- C is 61, the maximum number of weeks of extended parental benefits payable per benefit period (EIA 152.14(1)(b)(ii))
- D is 35, the maximum number of weeks of standard parental benefits payable per benefit period (EIA 152.14(1)(b)(i))
220.127.116.11 When parental benefits are payable
The standard parental benefits window:
- begins with the week in which the child is born or placed with the claimant for purposes of adoption
- ends 52 weeks after that week
The extended parental benefits window:
- begins with the week in which the child is born or placed with the claimant for purposes of adoption
- ends 78 weeks after that week
If the child is hospitalized, the window may be extended by the number of weeks the child is in the hospital, up to a maximum of 104 weeks (EIA 152.05(3),(4)). This provision allows parents to care for their child or children during a period critical to the children's development and the extensions allow flexibility as to when the parental benefits may be requested.
When extending the parental window for hospitalization of a child, the benefit period is also extended for the weeks of hospitalization that fall within the parental window (EIA 152.11(13)). However, the benefit period does not change the maximum number of benefit weeks to which the claimant is entitled.
Even when the claimant is within this window, no benefits are paid if they are no longer eligible or not entitled to them or if the claim has exhausted by duration. Parental benefits are not payable or cease to be payable on the death of the child.
Parental benefits cannot be paid in advance of the child's birth or in advance of the actual placement of the child.
18.104.22.168 When out of Canada
A claimant who is outside Canada temporarily or permanently is entitled to parental benefits, unless their social insurance number has expired. A claimant in receipt of parental benefits is not required to prove availability for work, and will not be disentitled from benefits solely because of being out of the country (EIR 55.01(3)).
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