Maternity, parental and sickness benefits

Employment Insurance (EI) frequently asked questions

Table of Contents

1. Who is eligible for maternity, parental and sickness benefits?

  • Maternity benefits: Birth mothers or surrogate mothers
  • Parental benefits: Biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents
  • Sickness benefits: People whose illness, injury or quarantine prevents them from working

2. What do I need to qualify?

  • Your regular weekly earnings must have been decreased by more than 40%; and
  • You have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim, whichever is shorter.

3. How long can I receive maternity, parental and sickness benefits?

  • Maternity benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 15 weeks.
  • Parental benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 35 weeks.
  • Sickness benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 15 weeks.

A combination of maternity, parental and sickness benefits can be received up to a combined maximum of 50 weeks.

If you have received sickness benefits before or after your maternity benefits you could receive up to a maximum of 65 weeks of combined sickness, maternity and parental benefits. However, certain conditions must be met during your benefit period.

4. Do I need to fill out reports during maternity and/or parental benefits?

No, but you must sign a waiver saying so when you apply for EI.

5. Do I need to provide a medical certificate when I apply for maternity benefits?

No, but at the time you apply you will be asked to prove your pregnancy by signing a statement declaring the expected due or actual date of birth.

6. Do I need a Record of Employment (ROE) if I'm applying for maternity and parental leave?

All paper copies of your ROEs from the last 52 weeks must be submitted without delay to your Service Canada Centre. Your claim cannot be finalized without the original ROEs being on file. If your employer submits your ROE to Service Canada electronically, you do not need to submit a copy of your ROE to Service Canada, since we will have received it from your employer. On the same day your employer submits it, you will be able to view and print copies of your ROE online using My Service Canada Account.

If getting your ROE is a problem, read the section on "How, where and when to apply".

7. When can I start collecting maternity benefits?

You can start collecting maternity benefits either up to 8 weeks before you are expected to give birth or at the week you give birth. Maternity benefits can be collected within 17 weeks of the actual or expected week of birth, whichever is later.

8. Can I apply for maternity and parental benefits at the same time?

Yes! The website takes you step by step through the application process, and provides detailed instructions on how to apply for maternity and parental benefits at the same time.

9. Can my partner receive parental benefits while I am being paid maternity benefits?

Yes. Between you and your partner you have 35 weeks of parental benefits and you can divide those weeks any way you like. If that person is recognized as the child’s legal parent on the provincial or territorial birth certificate, that person will be eligible to receive parental benefits, provided the qualifying conditions to establish a claim and entitlement conditions to receive benefits have been met. If you cannot be recognized by the province as a parent on the birth registration, you will not be entitled to parental benefits unless an adoption process has been started or, in cases where the child is not legally adoptable, from the date you attest that it is your intent to adopt the child placed with you. In these circumstances, the Commission may, at any time, request proof certifying that the child for whom you are claiming parental benefits as been placed with you by a recognized authority and that the placement was not merely a temporary one.

10. When can I or my partner start collecting parental benefits?

Parental benefits for biological parents and their partners are payable from the child's birth date, and for adoptive parents and their partners from the date the child is placed with you.

11. If my child is hospitalized, can I start receiving parental benefits once he/she comes home from the hospital?

If your newborn or newly adopted child is hospitalized, you can choose to claim parental benefits immediately following the child's birth/placement or when he/she comes home from the hospital. In either case, you could receive 35 weeks of parental benefits. Each week your child is hospitalized extends the period in which you can claim parental benefits, up to a maximum of 104 weeks. You must provide a proof of the child's hospitalization.

12. If myself and partner choose to share parental benefits do we each have a waiting period?

No, when parental benefits are shared between both parents only one waiting period needs to be served.

13. I am covered under a sickness benefit plan through my employer. Do I need to exhaust all my paid sick leave or group wage loss insurance (WLI) before being eligible for EI sickness benefits?

If you stop working because of illness and you are entitled to paid sick leave from your employer you must exhaust all your sick leave credits before being eligible for EI sickness benefits. As well, if you are entitled to a wage loss insurance (WLI) group plan you must first receive the WLI provided by that plan before being eligible for EI benefits.

14. I have applied for my sickness benefit plan, however my claim is either not settled or my entitlement to the sickness benefit plan is being contested. Can I receive EI sickness benefits while I wait for a decision on my entitlement to these benefits?

If eligible, you may receive EI sickness benefits while awaiting a decision about your sick leave pay or wage loss insurance. However, you must sign an agreement to inform us of the decision and repay the EI benefits, which means you must repay any and all EI benefit overpayments received while awaiting a decision on your sick leave or wage loss insurance (WLI) claim.

15. What do I need to obtain to indicate that I am unable to work due to sickness, injury or quarantine?

You must obtain a medical certificate signed by your doctor to confirm the duration of your incapacity.

16. Can I leave the country when I'm receiving maternity, parental or sickness benefits?

You are able to collect maternity and parental benefits while you are outside Canada. However, you must advise your Service Canada Centre that you are leaving the country.

You are able to collect sickness benefits outside Canada only if you are going to another country to receive medical treatment not readily or immediately available in Canada at an accredited hospital, medical clinic or a similar facility. If you decide on your own to go to another country to rest and recuperate, you will not be entitled to benefits. You must also advise your Service Canada Centre if you go out of Canada.

17. Can I work while I'm receiving maternity, parental or sickness benefits?

If you work while on maternity or sickness benefits, your earnings will be deducted from your benefits, dollar for dollar.

Normally, if you work while on parental benefits you can earn $50 per week or 25% of your weekly benefits, whichever is higher. Any monies earned above that amount will be deducted from your benefits, dollar for dollar.

However, effective August 5, 2012 until August 1, 2015, a new pilot project is in place which will change the way earnings are deducted. This will apply to claims for parental benefits.

Under the Working While on Claim (WWC) pilot project, once you have served the waiting period, if your earnings are equal to or less than 90% of your weekly earnings that were used to calculate your benefit rate, your benefits will be reduced at a rate of 50% of your earnings each week. Any earnings that exceed this 90% threshold, will be deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.

18. If I have or adopt more than one child at once, do I get more money?

No, the weekly EI payment and the number of weeks to be paid remain the same.

19. Once I have received all of my maternity and parental EI benefits, do I have to return to work?

It is your choice whether or not to return to work after your maternity and parental leave. One way or the other, you do not have to repay your EI maternity and parental benefits. However, if you received supplemental payments from your employer while receiving EI maternity and parental benefits, check with him/her; if you do not return to work, your employer's plan may require you to pay back the supplement.