In Canada, maternity benefits are paid to the mother for a maximum of 15 weeks, then there are additional parental benefits. Paternal benefits are available to either parent, or split between them, to a combined maximum of 35 weeks. So if the father remains at work, the mother could receive 50 weeks of payments.
The maternity and parental benefits are paid through the Employment Insurance (EI) program. To apply for these benefits you will need:
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Record of Employment (ROE)
- Government issued identification
- Bank information for direct deposit
- Child’s date of birth, or expected date of birth
- Employment details such as salary and last day worked
You will receive 55% of your average earnings, up to a maximum weekly payment of $447. This means that if you currently make more than $42,300 a year, you will not receive a full 55% of your income, but will get the maximum $447 a week. This is taxable income and the federal and provincial taxes will be deducted automatically so you will get a lesser amount on your cheque or direct deposit.
Working during your maternity leave will reduce your benefits dollar for dollar so there’s no financial benefit to that. However, when you are on parental benefits you can earn whichever is higher, 25% of your benefit amount or $50. So depending on benefit amount you receive, you can make an additional $50-$111 a week without having your benefit payments reduced.
While still less than you would make while working, maternity and parental benefits are a great way to enable families to take the time off to properly care for their newborn.