Canada: Le Gouvernement Fédéral annonce une prolongation des prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi et d'autres modifications à l'assurance-emploi touchant les congés

Le 9 novembre 2017, le gouvernement du Canada a annoncé des modifications aux règles entourant les prestations parentales et de maternité et a fourni des détails sur les nouvelles prestations destinées aux aidants naturels en vertu de la  Loi sur l'assurance-emploi. Ces changements entreront en vigueur le 3 décembre 2017.

a) Prolongation des prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi

Les nouveaux parents qui ont droit aux prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi auront bientôt le choix de recevoir ces versements pendant une période allant jusqu'à 61 semaines après la naissance ou l'adoption d'un enfant, ce qui constitue une prolongation de 26 semaines; ces prestations pourront être divisées entre les parents comme ils l'entendent. Les changements n'auront pas pour effet d'augmenter la valeur totale des prestations parentales d'assurance-emploi ni n'influeront sur les critères d'admissibilité existants. La nouvelle option permettra en revanche d'étaler les prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi sur une plus longue période. Ainsi, les parents admissibles pourront choisir de toucher 33 % de leur rémunération hebdomadaire moyenne pendant la période prolongée, à savoir 18 mois, plutôt que de recevoir, comme c'est le cas actuellement, des versements équivalant à 55 % de leur rémunération hebdomadaire moyenne pendant 35 semaines, sous réserve des plafonds de versement hebdomadaires établis chaque année par le gouvernement fédéral.

Plus tôt cette année, ce même gouvernement a modifié le Code canadien du travail dans le cadre de son projet de loi budgétaire du 22 juin 2017, de façon à porter à 63 semaines la durée maximale du congé parental, lequel peut être divisé entre 2 travailleurs. Ces modifications du Code canadien du travail prendront effet le 3 décembre 2017 afin de coïncider avec l'entrée en vigueur de la mesure visant à prolonger la période de versement des prestations d'assurance-emploi aux nouveaux parents. En prévision de ces nouvelles options, le projet de loi 148 de l'Ontario, intitulé Loi de 2017 pour l'équité en milieu de travail et de meilleurs emplois, prévoit également des modifications qui prolongeraient le congé parental en vertu de la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d'emploi, le faisant passer de 35 à 61 semaines pour les employées qui partent en congé de maternité et de 37 à 63 semaines pour ceux qui ne prennent que le congé parental. En Ontario, si le projet de loi 148 est adopté, une employée pourrait bénéficier d'un congé de maternité combiné à un congé parental pour un total de 78 semaines (comparativement au maximum actuel de 52 semaines) et aurait la possibilité de toucher les prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi auxquelles elle est admissible pour la durée étendue de son congé, bien qu'à un taux moins élevé.

En Alberta, l'Employment Standards Code a été modifié plus tôt cette année. Les changements apportés aux dispositions portant sur le congé de maternité, le congé parental et le congé pour les aidants naturels, qui entreront en vigueur le 1er janvier 2018, donneront lieu aux possibilités suivantes :

  • Congé de maternité : 16 semaines pouvant commencer à tout moment au cours des 12 semaines précédant la date prévue de l'accouchement;
  • Congé parental : jusqu'à 37 semaines;
  • Congé de soignant : jusqu'à 27 semaines;
  • Congé en cas de maladie grave d'un enfant : jusqu'à 36 semaines.

En date du présent bulletin, le gouvernement de l'Alberta n'a pas mis en Suvre d'autres modifications aux périodes de congé susmentionnées pour s'aligner sur les périodes prolongées pendant lesquelles un employé admissible peut bénéficier des prestations d'assurance-emploi.

Au Québec, les employés continueront de recevoir des prestations parentales, de maternité et d'adoption, de même que des prestations de paternité, aux termes du Régime québécois d'assurance parentale, qui ne sera pas touché par les changements qu'a annoncés le gouvernement fédéral.

Dans les autres provinces, la législation sur les normes d'emploi prévoit des congés parentaux moins longs que ceux proposés en Ontario dans le projet de loi 148, et il reste à voir si ces provinces modifieront leurs droits minimaux en réaction aux changements apportés aux prestations parentales de l'assurance-emploi par le gouvernement fédéral.

b) Devancement de l'accès aux prestations de maternité de l'assurance-emploi

Ces changements permettront aux employées admissibles d'avoir accès plus tôt aux prestations de maternité. Les règles actuelles, aux termes desquelles il est possible de réclamer des prestations de maternité jusqu'à 8 semaines avant la date prévue de l'accouchement, seront modifiées afin qu'il soit possible d'en bénéficier jusqu'à 12 semaines avant cette date. Les prestations de maternité de l'assurance-emploi demeureront inchangées, à savoir 15 semaines à 55 % de la rémunération hebdomadaire moyenne jusqu'à concurrence de 543 $ par semaine, mais les employées admissibles pourront s'en prévaloir jusqu'à 12 semaines avant la naissance d'un enfant et pendant les 17 semaines suivant cet événement.

c) Nouvelle prestation d'assurance-emploi pour proches aidants

Une nouvelle prestation d'assurance-emploi pour proches aidants a également été instaurée, étendant ainsi la couverture offerte par le programme de l'assurance-emploi aux employés admissibles qui s'absentent du travail pour prendre soin d'un membre de la famille dans certaines circonstances. Ces prestations comprennent : i) une prestation versée pendant un maximum de 15 semaines aux travailleurs qui s'absentent pour prendre soin d'un membre adulte de la famille gravement malade ou blessé, pouvant être partagée par les proches aidants admissibles sur une période d'un an; ii) une prestation pour proches aidants d'enfants versée pendant un maximum de 35 semaines aux travailleurs qui s'absentent pour offrir des soins ou du soutien à un enfant gravement malade. Ces deux nouvelles prestations peuvent être jumelées aux prestations de compassion existantes, d'un maximum de 26 semaines.

Partout au Canada, les employeurs devront passer en revue et modifier leurs politiques existantes sur les congés, y compris celles qui prévoient un complément salarial ou des prestations complémentaires, afin de s'assurer qu'elles tiennent compte des modifications apportées à la loi.

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