Employment insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits provide financial assistance to people who are away from work because they are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are caring for their newborn or newly adopted child. Under this benefit, a parent can receive up to 55 per cent of their earnings, to a maximum of $595 a week. Maternity benefits can be taken for up to 15 weeks, while parental benefits can be taken for up to 40 weeks, with one parent allowed to take up to 35 of those weeks. Parents may also access extended parental leave for up to 69 weeks, with one parent allowed to take up to 61 of those weeks.
Adoptive parents are entitled to EI parental benefits, but cannot access the extra 15 weeks available to birth parents. This is despite Justin Trudeau’s promise during the 2019 campaign to fix this inequity.
More generous maternity and parental leave
Canada’s maternity and parental leave programs play an essential role in enhancing equality and strengthening the economy. To improve these programs, Canada’s Conservatives will allow those on maternity and parental leave to earn up to $1,000 per month with no impact to their EI benefits. Many lower income parents cannot afford the reduced earnings (55 per cent) of EI benefits for the full one-year period. The demands of a modern workforce can also impact parents who are trying to keep up their skills and stay connected to their industry or workplace. As a result, many return to work full-time after just a few months.
The ability to supplement EI with extra earnings from remote work, gig work, or a few part-time shifts will enable some parents to take more months at home with the baby. It will also enable parents to earn a little extra income, stay connected to the workforce, and ease their return to work.
The EI Working While on Claim, which allows parents to keep 50 cents of EI benefits for every dollar they earn, will now apply after a parent earns their first $1,000 in income. This means that a parent can earn $1,000 with no impact on EI benefits, and then every dollar earned above $1,000 would result in a 50 cent reduction in benefits. This change will provide even more flexibility to parents.
Supporting expectant parents
Canada’s Conservatives recognize that the cost of raising children continues to skyrocket. The birth of a child often brings many first-time costs for cribs, clothes, car
seats and a range of other items needed for the family. A Conservative government will expand the Canada Child Benefit by allowing benefits to begin at the seventh month of pregnancy rather than at childbirth. This change will make the benefit much more practical and tailored to the real needs of parents as they prepare for the birth of their child.
A National Adoption Strategy
According to the Children’s Aid Foundation, there are 30,000 children in Canada’s welfare system who are eligible for adoption and there are another 63,000 children living in foster care, kinship care, or group care. Each year, Canadians adopt about 2,000 children.
A Conservative government will create a National Adoption Strategy that will include more generous benefits for adoptive parents. It will make adoptive parents eligible for an extra 15 weeks of EI benefits. It will also increase the Adoption Expense Tax Credit from $15,000 to $20,000. These changes will allow adoptive parents to access the same EI benefits as non-adoptive parents of 50 weeks of parental leave.
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