A Guide to Paternity Leave in Canada

A Guide to Paternity Leave in Canada

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Paternity leave in Canada is one of the longest and most generous leave programs in the developed world. This is a huge benefit for Canadian parents, as it allows them to take the time they need to bond with their new child without having to worry about financial instability. It also allows fathers to be more involved in their child’s life from the very beginning, which research has shown to have a positive impact on the child’s development. 

Let’s take a closer look at how the Canadian government’s policies support new parents.

Paternity Leave is Part of Parental Leave

In Canada, paternity leave is part of parental leave, which means that both parents can use this time off together, but at least 5 weeks are reserved for “daddy days”. If the father doesn’t take this leave, the family loses the leave period reserved just for the father. 

What is the Difference Between Maternity Leave and Parental Leave?

Maternity leave is available to biological mothers (including surrogate mothers) near the end of a pregnancy or immediately afterward. After maternity leave ends, either the mother or father can take paid parental leave.

paternity leave in canada

Are You Eligible For Paid Parental Leave?

Parental benefits in Canada are federal, and funded by Employment Insurance (EI). You may qualify for parental benefits if you can prove that:

  • You’re a parent caring for a newborn or newly adopted child when applying to receive parental benefits
  • Your regular weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week
  • You are employed in insurable employment (This means that you have had employment insurance (EI) premiums deducted from your wage by your employer. These premium rates change from year to year.)
  • You have worked at least 600 hours of insurable employment in the past year. This means you have worked 600 hours in the 52 weeks before the start of your EI period. (Temporary: until September 24, 2022. you’ll need 420 insured hours)
  • You meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or paternity benefits

You can find out more about the complete rules for eligibility on the Government of Canada website.

Parental Benefits

Parental benefits are available to the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child. These benefits are designed to replace your earnings while you’re off work. Both parents can take this leave but it has to be split. Your choice determines the number of weeks and the weekly amount you’ll receive.

You must choose between 2 options:

1. Standard parental 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 (at least 5 weeks of “daddy days”). During this time you can earn up to 55% of your income, up to a maximum of $638 per week.

2. Extended parental benefits

Extended 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 (at least 8 weeks of “daddy days”). During this time you can earn up to 33% of your income, up to a maximum of $383 per week.

Check both these benefits in the example below.

Parental Benefits Overview

This leave can be taken at the same time (so if you want to be on leave for 20 weeks together with your child you can choose that), or one after the other. 

Here’s an example of standard parental benefits:

Jim Halpert has decided to apply for 5 weeks of standard parental benefits to care for the baby. His wife, Pam Beesly after taking 15 weeks of maternity leave takes a maximum of 35 weeks of standard parental benefit.

A Guide to Paternity Leave in Canada

If Pam chooses to take fewer weeks of parental benefits, Jim can apply for more. For example, Pam takes the full 15 weeks of maternity benefits she is entitled to. After that, she and Jim each decide to take 20 weeks of standard parental benefits at the same time to care for their child.

Here’s an example of extended parental benefits:

Dwight Schrute has decided to apply for 8 weeks of extended parental benefits to care for the baby. His wife, Angela Martin after taking 15 weeks of maternity leave takes a maximum of 61 weeks of extended parental benefit.

A Guide to Paternity Leave in Canada

If Angela chooses to take fewer weeks of parental benefits, Dwight can apply for more. For example, Angela first takes the full 15 weeks of maternity benefits and then decides to take 39 weeks of extended parental benefits. This means Dwight can take up to 30 weeks (69 – 39) of extended parental benefits to care for their child.

Side Note:

If sharing, each parent must choose the same option and submit their application. One parent could not choose the standard option while the other chose extended. Once you start receiving parental benefits, you can’t change options.

Benefit Rate and Weekly Maximum

The basic rate for standard parental benefit is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2022, that maximum yearly insurable earnings is $60,300 — which means that the maximum weekly amount is $638. 

Even if your income is higher than the maximum, you can still only receive benefit payments up to the set maximum amount (for example, if you make $80,000 yearly, you would still only be eligible for up to $638 weekly).

How Much Will I Receive?

The amount you receive will be determined once your application is processed. The actual amount of parental benefit payments depends on how much you make before you take your leave, and will be determined by the government. 

Can I Get More?

This 55% is just what your federal government is going to give you. Some employers provide additional money to employees on maternity or parental leave. This is called a top-up. So, the federal government is going to give you 55% of your salary, and your employer will give you more, so that you’re earning, for example 80% of your salary. Check your company policy to find out if they offer a top-up.

When Could I Start My Parental Leave?

For parental leave, you can start to receive these during specific periods starting the week your baby is born, or the week your adopted child is placed with you.

These periods are:

  •     Standard parental: within 52 weeks (12 months)
  •     Extended parental: within 78 weeks (18 months)

How Do I Apply for EI Parental Benefits?

You can apply online here for EI parental benefits (the application takes about an hour to complete, but it’s a good idea to choose your benefit options and collect the required information and documents beforehand). If you want to do it in person, go to the Service Canada center.

If You’re Not a Canadian Citizen

Even if you’re not a Canadian citizen, you may still be eligible to receive parental benefits provided you have a valid social insurance number (SIN). 

Do Those Living in Quebec Receive the Same Benefits?

No. If you live in Québec, your maternity and parental benefits don’t come from EI, but rather via the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). Visit the Québec Parental Insurance Plan for more information.

Quebec is Canada’s most paternity-friendly region since 2006. Approximately 84% of Dads exercise this policy (compared to only 11% of dads in the rest of Canada)!

Wrapping Up

Paternity leave is an important benefit that Canadian fathers can take advantage of. This leave allows fathers to spend time bonding with their new child, and it can also be used to help out around the house. If you’re a new father, be sure to take advantage of this benefit!

If you have a business, it’s important to keep track of your employee’s paternity leave. This will help you stay organized and ensure that your employees are getting the time off that they need. The best way to do this is to use leave tracking software. Sign up for our demo to get started.

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