Paternity leave and maternity leave in Canada

paternity leave

When thinking of having children in Canada it is important to know what type of paternity leave or maternity leave you will be entitled to, as well as how much income you can expect to earn.

In Canada, there are two types of benefits and leave, which are maternity and paternity. Maternity benefits or maternity leave is only for those who are pregnant or have recently given birth. Paternity benefits or paternity leave is for the parents of a newborn or adopted child.

Maternity leave and benefits

Maternity leave and benefits can be taken for up to 15 weeks. During this time you can earn up to 55% of your salary, up to a maximum of $573 a week. This benefit is claimed through Employment Insurance. These applications can be submitted online. You will typically receive your first payment 28 days after applying for benefits. There will be one week where you will not be paid, which is a standard waiting period. Only one parent will ever have a waiting period, and if you claim maternity leave and benefits and paternity leave and benefits, then you only need to undergo one waiting period.

Maternity leave and benefits end once one of the following happens:

  • you’ve received 15 weeks of maternity benefit payments
  • 17 weeks have passed since your due date or the date you gave birth, whichever is later
  • you’ve received the maximum weeks of benefits payable to you when combining EI benefit types or
  • you have reached the end of your claim period
    • when you start a claim for any type of EI benefit, your claim is open for a certain period of time. This is usually 52 weeks. In some situations, the claim period may be extended to a maximum of 2 years

Paternity leave and benefits

Paternity leave and benefits are broken into two categories, standard benefits, and extended benefits. Standard benefits can be claimed for up to 40 weeks and can be split between parents, with one parent not able to claim more than 35 weeks. This leave can be taken at the same time, or one after the other. During this time you can earn up to 55% of your income, up to a maximum of $573 per week. Both parents would need to claim the same benefits. One parent could not choose the standard option while the other chose extended.

Extended paternity leave and benefits can be claimed for up to 69 weeks and can be split between parents, with one parent not able to claim more than 61 weeks. This leave can be taken at the same time, or one after the other. During this time you can earn up to 33% of your income, up to a maximum of $344 per week.

Standard paternity leave and benefits end once one of the following happens:

  • you’ve received all standard paternity benefit payments you applied for, up to a maximum of 35 weeks
  • the maximum of 40 weeks has been paid to parents sharing benefits
  • 52 weeks have passed since your child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption
  • you stop providing care for your child
  • you’ve received the maximum weeks of benefits payable to you when combining EI benefit types or
  • you have reached the end of your claim period
    • when you start a claim for any type of EI benefit, your claim is open for a certain period of time. This is usually 52 weeks. In some situations, the claim period may be extended to a maximum of 2 years

Extended paternity leave benefits end once one of the following happens:

  • you’ve received all extended paternity benefit payments you applied for, up to a maximum of 61 weeks
  • the maximum of 69 weeks has been paid to parents sharing benefits
  • 78 weeks have passed since your child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption
  • you stop providing care for your child
  • you’ve received the maximum weeks of benefits payable to you when combining EI benefit types or
  • you have reached the end of your claim period
    • when you start a claim for any type of EI benefit, your claim is open for a certain period of time. For extended paternity benefits, this period is up to 78 weeks. In some situations, the claim period may be extended to a maximum of 2 years

Who is eligible to apply for maternity leave and paternity leave

You may be eligible to receive EI maternity or paternity benefits if:

  • you are employed in insurable employment;
  • you meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or paternity benefits;
  • your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%; and
  • you have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period or, if you are a self-employed fisher, you have earned enough money during the qualifying period which is $3,760 from fishing during the 31-week qualifying period immediately before the start of your benefit period.

Sickness benefits

In some cases, parents may need additional time off over and above their paternity leave or maternity leave to care for a sick child, or if they themselves need additional time off for bed rest or other reasons. Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits can provide you with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week. If you are taking this time off for bed rest or anything associated with your pregnancy, these sickness benefits would be separate from your maternity leave.

Caregiving benefits

If you need to take time off to care for your sick child or another relative, you may be eligible for caregiving benefits which would be separate from your paternity leave or maternity leave. Through Employment Insurance, you could receive financial assistance of up to 55% of your earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week. As a caregiver, you don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for or support, but they must consider you to be like family. The three types of caregiving benefits are as follows:

Benefit nameMaximum weeks payableWho you are providing care to 
Family caregiver benefit for childrenup to 35 weeksA critically ill or injured person under 18
Family caregiver benefit for adultsup to 15 weeksA critically ill or injured person 18 or over
Compassionate care benefitsup to 26 weeksA person of any age who requires end-of-life care