EI maternity and parental benefits: Eligibility

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

The information below should be used as a guideline. We encourage you to apply for benefits and let a Service Canada agent determine if you're eligible.
You need to demonstrate that:

  • you're pregnant or have recently given birth when requesting maternity benefits
  • you're a parent caring for your newborn or newly adopted child when requesting parental benefits
  • your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week
  • you accumulated 600 insured hours* of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter

*As an example, 600 hours are equivalent to 20 weeks of work at 30 hours a week.

If you had a recent claim

If you received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in the past 52 weeks, you may not be eligible to receive the maximum number of weeks of maternity or parental benefits.

However, if you've worked 600 hours since your last claim, you could start a new claim. Contact us to find out what's best for your situation.

If you get sick or require bedrest during pregnancy

If you have health complications during pregnancy, you could be eligible for sickness benefits or for maternity benefits earlier. You must meet the conditions for each benefit.

If you're self-employed

If you registered for access to EI special benefits for self-employed people and waited 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration, you may be eligible for maternity and parental benefits. You must also meet all of the following conditions:

  • The amount of time you spend on your business has decreased by more than 40% for at least one week because you're pregnant or have recently given birth or you're caring for your newborn or newly adopted child
  • You earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings during the calendar year before the year you apply for benefits. For 2019, you need to have earned at least $7,121 in 2018
If you're not a Canadian citizen

If you have a valid social insurance number, you may be eligible for maternity and parental benefits.

If you plan to travel outside of Canada, contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to find out how this may impact your situation.

Eligibility period

Maternity benefits

You can start receiving maternity benefits as early as 12 weeks before your due date or the date you give birth. You cannot receive these benefits more than 17 weeks after your due date or the date you gave birth, whichever is later.

Parental benefits

You can receive parental benefits within specific periods starting the week after your child's date of birth or the date your child is placed with you for the purpose of adoption.

These periods are:

  • Standard parental: within 52 weeks (12 months)
  • Extended parental: within 78 weeks (18 months)
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