In Canada, most new parents can receive Employment Insurance (EI) or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) maternity and parental benefits while they take time off from work to care for their newborn children.
Adoptive parents are only eligible to receive EI parental benefits. In Quebec, new adoptive parents are eligible to receive QPIP adoption benefits.
While on maternity, parental or adoption leave, you will probably be making less money than you would while working. Now, before the baby comes, is the time to prepare to live on a reduced income. Draft a financial plan for handling a reduced income while you, your partner, or both of you are away from work.
How much will you receive?
Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits generally pay only 55% of your income up to a specified maximum. The Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) pays a maximum of 75% of your previous income up to a maximum specified amount.
This means that, unless your employer offers a top-up, you will likely lose up to 45% of your income while on maternity or parental leave, even as your monthly expenses increase to pay for diapers, clothing and other baby-related expenses.
Low-income families may also be eligible to receive the Employment Insurance Family Supplement from EI or an additional amount from QPIP. The amount of money a low-income family will receive is based on the family’s income as well as the number of children
Applying for benefits
Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits as soon as you stop working. There will be a delay of four to six weeks before you receive your first cheque.
The first two weeks of EI maternity and parental leave are unpaid. However, there is no waiting period for QPIP benefits.
You will need a Record of Employment from your employer in order to apply for maternity or parental benefits. If you are an adoptive parent, be sure to include the adoption papers in your application.
Visit Service Canada’s website for more information on Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits or Emploie et solidarité sociale Québec for more information on the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).
Maternity and parental benefits for the self-employed
If you are self-employed, you may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits. EI maternity and parental benefits for the self-employed pay 55% of your weekly average earnings, up to a maximum amount, if you meet certain conditions.
You must first register for Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits and pay EI premiums, up to a defined maximum. You must then wait at least 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration before you can make a claim.
So if you are self-employed and planning to have a baby or adopt in the near future, it’s important to register as soon as possible.
The Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) also offers maternity and parental benefits for self-employed residents of Quebec. Quebec residents who are self-employed may qualify to receive up to 75% of their weekly average earnings, up to a certain amount, if they meet certain conditions.
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