News Article

EI Enhances Parental Sharing Benefits

Posted: October 30, 2018
Posted in: Strategic Thinking

Budget 2018 proposed a new five-week Employment Insurance (EI) Parental Sharing Benefit that will be available as a “use it or lose it” benefit top-up when both parents agree to share parental leave, starting March 17, 2019. Now Finance Canada offers further details with Bill C-86 on how the program will work to benefit Canadians.

Bill C-86, the second Budget Implementation Act, tabled with the House of Commons on October 29 furthers gender equality initiatives prioritized. The program originally set to launch in June 2019, will now be offered to parents earlier – as of March 17, 2019 This according to a September announcement by Employment and Social Development Canada.

This benefit will provide additional weeks of parental benefits when parents, including adoptive and same-sex couples, agree to share parental leave. Employment and Social Development Canada has indicated that the goal is to encourage Canadians to share parenting roles equally, as currently 85 of all parental claims are made by women.

"Providing women with equal economic opportunities will drive innovation and support middle class families. The new parental sharing benefit will give parents extra flexibility and encourage Canadians to share the work of raising their children more equally,” said, Jean-Yves Duclos, Minster of Families, Children and Social Development.

How do the current parental benefits work? The option offers 35 weeks paid at 55 per cent of average weekly earnings, with the following guidelines:

  • Either parent may take up to 35 weeks;
  • The other parent may take the remainder of the 35 total weeks available;
  • Parents can share the 35 total weeks in various combinations. For example, one parent could choose to access 20 weeks, and the other 15 weeks; or one parent could choose to access 10 weeks, and the other 25 weeks.  
  • If a couple decides that one parent takes 35 weeks, there are no week available to the other parent.

How will the changes enhance parental benefits? Under the new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit:

  • Either parent may take up to 35 weeks;
  • The other parent may take the remainder of the 40 total weeks available;
  • Parents can share the 40 total weeks in various combinations. For example, parents could choose to split the parental benefits equally and each access 20 weeks; or one parent could choose to access 15 weeks, and the other 25 weeks. 
  • A minimum of 5 weeks is available for each parent.
  • Parents with children born on or after March 17, 2019 are eligible.

Equivalent rules would apply to Employment Insurance extended parental benefits with 61 weeks as the limit for one parent, and up to 69 weeks available in total (paid at 33 percent of average weekly earnings).

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