Canada: Federal Government Announces Expansion Of Parental Benefits And Other Leave-Related Changes Under EI

Last Updated: November 13 2017
Article by Kate Dearden and Maciej Lipinski

Most Read Contributor in Canada, October 2017

On November 9, 2017, the federal government announced changes to the rules surrounding maternity and parental benefits and provided details about new caregiving benefits under the Employment Insurance Act. These changes are set to come into effect as of December 3, 2017.

a) Extension of EI Parental Benefits

New parents who are eligible for employment insurance ("EI") parental benefits will also soon have the option to receive such payments for up to 61 weeks after a child is born or adopted, which is an extension of 26 weeks, to be divided between the parents as they choose. These changes will not increase the total dollar value of EI parental benefits, nor do they affect the existing eligibility requirements. Rather, the new option allows for repackaging EI parental benefits over a longer period — eligible parents can choose to receive 33 per cent of average weekly earnings over the extended 18-month period instead of the current payments which represent 55 per cent of average weekly earnings paid over a 35-week benefit period, subject to maximum weekly payment levels set annually by the federal government.

The federal government, as part of its June 22, 2017 budget bill, passed amendments to the Canada Labour Code earlier this year to extend the maximum length of parental leave to 63 weeks, which may be divided between two workers. These amendments to the Canada Labour Code come into force on December 3, 2017, to coincide with the extended EI option for new parents. In anticipation of the federal EI benefit program's new options surrounding parental leave, Ontario's Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, also contains amendments that would extend parental leave under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 from 35 weeks to 61 weeks for employees who have also taken pregnancy leave, and from 37 weeks to 63 weeks for those who are taking only parental leave. If Ontario's Bill 148 is passed, this means that an employee could take a combined maternity and parental leave of a total of 78 weeks (up from the current 52 week maximum), and would have the option of receiving any EI parental benefits for which they are eligible, but at a lower rate, over the extended leave period.

In Alberta, the Employment Standards Code was amended earlier in 2017, introducing changes to maternity, parental and family caregiver type leave provisions, which come into effect on January 1, 2018. These will include the following leave periods:

  • Maternity Leave: 16 weeks commencing any time during the 12 weeks before the estimated delivery date;
  • Parental Leave: up to 37 weeks;
  • Compassionate Care Leave: up to 27 weeks; and
  • Critical Illness of Child Leave: up to 36 weeks.

As of this writing, the Alberta government has not introduced any further changes to the above leave periods to coincide with the extension of the time periods during which an eligible employee could draw on employment insurance benefits.

Employees in Québec will continue to receive maternity, parental and adoption benefits, as well as a paternity benefit under the Québec Parental Insurance Plan, which will not be affected by the federal government's announced changes.

In other provinces, employment standards legislation sets out parental leave periods at a lower level than those proposed for Ontario by Bill 148, and it remains to be seen whether changes to minimum entitlements in these provinces will be made in response to the federal government's changes to EI parental benefits.

b) Earlier access to EI Maternity Benefits

Under these changes, eligible employees will be able to receive earlier access to maternity benefits. Current rules allowing employees to claim EI maternity benefits up to 8 weeks prior to the expected date of birth will be amended to allow applications for maternity benefits as early as 12 weeks before the expected date. EI maternity benefits will remain at their current level — 15 weeks at 55 per cent of average weekly earnings (to a maximum of $543/week) — but will be accessible by eligible employees from up to 12 weeks before birth to 17 weeks after.

c) New EI Family Caregiver Benefits

New EI caregiving benefits have also been introduced, expanding support provided by the EI program to eligible employees who take time away from work to provide care for sick or injured family members in certain circumstances. These benefits include: (i) Up to 15 weeks' Family Caregiver benefit for adults to be provided to workers who leave work to care for or support an adult family member who is critically ill or injured, which may be shared by eligible family members over a one-year period; and (ii) Up to 35 weeks' Family Caregiver benefit for children to be provided to workers who leave work to care for or support a critically ill child. Each of these new benefits may be combined with the existing Compassionate Care benefit, which provides a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits.

Employers across Canada will need to review and revise existing leave policies, including any policies to top-up salaries or provide supplemental benefits, in order to ensure they accurately reflect the changes to the law and the employer's intended policy for employees.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.