As of March 17, 2019, parents, including same-sex and adoptive parents, will be eligible for an extended period of Employment Insurance parental benefits if they opt to share the total benefit period with the other parent.
What are EI parental benefits?
Under the Employment Insurance Act parental benefits are available to provide financial assistance to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or children.
Prior to March 17, 2019, parents had a choice between two options for how they received parental benefits:
- Standard parental benefits (for up to 35 weeks at a rate of 55% of earnings, to a maximum of $562 per week); or
- Extended parental benefits (for up to 61 weeks at a rate of 33% of earnings, to a maximum of $337 per week).
New parental sharing benefit
For children born on or after March 17, 2019, new parents will still make an election between standard and extended benefits, but they are eligible to receive additional weeks of benefits as follows:
- Standard parental benefits: 5 additional weeks, for a total of 40 weeks (one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits); or
- Extended parental benefits: 8 additional weeks, for a total of 69 weeks (one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks of extended benefits).
As noted, the total parental benefits must be split between two parents in order to take advantage of the additional weeks offered. According to a news release from the Government of Canada, this decision was made to encourage parents to share child care responsibilities.
If parents opt to share benefits, they can receive their benefits at the same time or consecutively. However, both parents must be eligible for Employment Insurance parental benefits and must choose to receive the same type of benefit (standard or extended).