Get started before the hazy days of new motherhood set in.
First, figure out if you qualify for employment insurance benefits (EI, or QPIP in Quebec) during your maternity and parental leave. You must have worked 600 insurable hours and contributed to EI in the year leading up to your leave. (Note that QPIP has different criteria.) The basic benefit formula works out to be 55 percent of your average insurable weekly income, up to a maximum set by Service Canada.
Apply for your benefits as soon as you stop working, either online or in person at a Service Canada centre. Bring your social insurance number, banking information and your record of employment (ROE), unless your employer has already submitted it electronically. Expect to wait at least two weeks for your first benefit payment.
Birth Registration and Certificate
It’s exciting to register for your baby’s first piece of ID. Some provinces require you to submit forms within 30 days after your child’s birth. (Alberta requires a birth registration form submitted within 10 days.) Sort through the papers given to you by your nurse or midwife to find the Statement of Live Birth form (it may be called a Declaration or Registration of Live Birth). Fill it out and send it to your local registrar’s office.
Once your province processes your form, you’ll be sent a Notice of Birth Registration to use for your child’s birth certificate application. The procedures vary by province (in British Columbia and Ontario, you apply for both forms together) so visit your province or territory’s website for more details.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Even if your little one has yet to master head control, it’s not too early to register for his SIN card; without it you can’t create a registered education savings plan (RESP) or take advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant (a government top-up to your RESP contributions).
Parents living in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island can apply for their child’s SIN card when filling out birth registration forms. For everyone else, Service Canada suggests visiting your local office with identification (yours and your baby’s), including your passport, your birth certificate or your certificate of Canadian citizenship, for a 10-day turnaround. You can also apply by mail; expect to receive your card within 20 days.
Regardless of income, all families are eligible to receive $100 a month for each child under the age of six via the Universal Child Care Benefit program, while the Canada Child Tax Benefit allows eligible families with kids under 18 to receive up to $100 tax-free each month per child, depending on family income, province and number of children.
For more details, visit your local Canada Revenue Agency office or go online and fill out the Automated Benefits application.
Whether you’re planning to hop the pond or cross the border, you must have a passport for your baby. Download a Canadian Passport Application, submit it with two passport photos, guarantor and payment information, and your child’s original proof of citizenship. (Don’t worry, it’ll be sent back to you.) Apply in person for speedier service.
Don’t forget about baby’s health card!
The process varies across the country, so check out your provincial or territorial website (or Service Canada) for details on how to apply.
A version of this article appeared in our January 2013 issue with the headline “Paper Chase,” p. 45.
Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners