EI maternity and parental benefits: Special circumstances

From: Employment and Social Development Canada


Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, there are changes to this program.

Changes to support you during COVID-19

Temporary changes have been made to the EI program to help you access EI maternity and parental benefits. The following changes are in effect until September 25, 2021, and could apply to you:

  • the waiting period may be waived
  • you only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits because you'll get a one-time credit of 480 insured hours to help you meet the required 600 insured hours of work
  • for maternity and standard parental benefits, you'll receive at least $500 per week before taxes but you could receive more
    • for extended parental benefits, you'll receive at least $300 per week before taxes but you could receive more
  • if you received the CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended

Sections on this page impacted by these temporary changes are flagged as Temporary COVID-19 relief.

Below are some special circumstances that may impact you. Contact Service Canada to speak with an agent who can give you advice on your specific situation.

Changing your planned number of weeks

You can't change between standard and extended parental benefit options once benefits have been paid. That said, you can change the number of weeks you take as long as you don't go over the maximum for the option you chose.

Non-consecutive parental leave

If you're taking parental leave at different times during the eligibility period, you must submit an application each time you plan to receive parental benefits. If you have an existing claim, we'll reactivate it or you could start a new claim.

Health complications during pregnancy

You could be eligible for sickness benefits or for maternity benefits earlier. You must meet the conditions for each benefit.

Health complications for your child

If your child is hospitalized, your eligibility period for maternity or parental benefits could be extended. You may be eligible for other benefits. This could include caregiving benefits if your child becomes critically ill or injured. You must meet the conditions for each benefit.

Miscarriage, termination or stillbirth

If you're reading this following a loss, please accept our condolences.

If your pregnancy ends before week 20, you could receive sickness benefits.

If your pregnancy ends in week 20 or later, you could receive maternity benefits.

Parental benefits are not available.

Death of a child

If you're reading this following the loss of your child, please accept our condolences.

You should know that you're still entitled to up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits. However, parental benefits are not available. If the loss occurs while parental benefits are being paid, parents are no longer eligible as of the week following the loss. You may be eligible for other benefits.

Please inform us as soon as possible so we can update your file and make any necessary adjustments.

Your child is not legally adoptable

If your child is not legally adoptable at the time they're placed with you, benefits can be paid from the date you demonstrate that:

  • you consider the placement to be permanent and
  • your intent is to adopt
Multiple birth

The number of weeks of maternity and parental benefits you can get doesn't change if you have a multiple birth (twins, triplets, etc.). This is also the case if you adopt more than one child at the same time.


Maternity benefits are available to people who are away from work because they're pregnant or have recently given birth, including surrogates. Parental benefits are not available to surrogates.

Canadian Forces member

If you're a Canadian Forces member (regular or reservist) who must defer or interrupt your parental leave because of an imperative military requirement, your eligibility period for parental benefits could be extended.

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