Maternity leave in Canada update

Maternity leave in Canada has changed. Here's what you need to know


As a parent-to-be you’ve got a lot to think about, but we’ve got you covered in regards to changes to maternity leave in Canada. Read on for all the latest news and other good-to-know points.

What’s new

As of January 2011, you can now qualify for maternity or parental leave if you’re self-employed. But take note:

• You must be registered with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission through Service Canada for at least 12 months before you can claim any benefits.

• Once you’ve registered and waited the obligatory 12 months, you can qualify for EI special benefits as long as you’ve reduced the amount of time devoted to your business by more than 40% due to giving birth and/or caring for your newborn or adopted child.

• You must also meet the annual minimum salary, which varies from year to year, so be sure to monitor the Service Canada website. Currently, to apply for benefits in 2011, you must have earned a minimum of $6,000 in 2010.
Also, the maximum weekly benefits have increased. Weekly maternity benefits used to be capped at $447 but as of January 1, 2011, this amount has increased to a maximum of $468. This number is determined by calculating 55% of your average yearly earnings, up to a maximum salary of $44,200. Even if your annual salary is higher than this, you’ll still only receive a maximum of $468 per week.

Did you know?

• You can begin collecting maternity leave as early as eight weeks before your due date. And you must begin collecting your maternity benefits within 17 weeks of your actual or expected due date, whichever comes later.

• If your baby is hospitalized upon birth, you can either begin your parental leave immediately or you can delay benefits until the baby is brought home. Each week the baby is hospitalized extends the claim period for beginning your parental leave benefits, up to a maximum time limit of 104 weeks. It is important to note that although the claiming period is extended, the period of benefits will remain the same, at 35 weeks.

• If you live in Quebec, you must apply for maternity or parental benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.