IE10 and below are not supported.

Contact us for any help on browser support

Views and experiences with Canada’s EI maternity/parental benefits and/or leave under the Canada Labour Code

over 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

What influenced you in deciding how much time to take off work to care for a child?

If you took more than a year away from work to care for a child, what was your experience?

Tell us your story.

Mother and daughter smiling at the camera
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Consultation has concluded

  • tinlizzy over 3 years ago
    Adoptive parents need at least equal time as birth families (presently they only get 35 weeks as the "maternity leave" portion is not allotted to them). Our children come to us older, frequently with multiple health concerns and with challenges to overcome while bonding. It is in the public's interest to assist adoptive families through those early days, including keeping our kids out of institutional care for as long as possible while we teach them what it means to be a part of a loving FOREVER family. For families adopting through the CAS it would also be beneficial to allow part/all of the parental leave to take place when the children are placed into their prospective adoptive family's care. Currently it may take years for an actual adoption decree to be issued, and families again need time to bond early in the process.
  • Erin over 3 years ago
    I would like to see the families with multiple births have more ei benefit extended another year because each child deserves the full year . I have twins and a 4 year old and won't be going back to work and pay for child care , we cannot afford it
  • johnnyeh over 3 years ago
    I was fortunate to take parental leave for all 3 of my children, born 2 years apart. In all 3 cases, my wife was ineligible for maternity leave. When our first child was born, my wife was self-employed. For our second and third children, she was a student. All 3 children were born by c-section, and for the latter 2 births, my wife respectively had 2 weeks off and 1 week off before having to return to school. In all 3 cases, I was able to access the 35 weeks of parental leave to be at home, and in all 3 cases, our children had to be placed in daycare at the age of 36 weeks since neither parent could be at home after that point. Infant daycare is difficult to access due to limited spaces, and is expensive. As we added children to our family, not only were we placing the infant in childcare but the older siblings also had to return to daycare when I returned to work. The financial burden was immense when we had a 10 month old, a 2 year old and a 4 year old all in childcare at the same time - and a wife in school. An additional 3 months of parental leave would have made a huge difference if I could have accessed parental leave for the first full year of each child's life. I would like to see parental leave extended to one year, thus allowing families to determine which parent is able to stay at home for the child's first year of life. Maternity leave could remain in place, and the total combination of leave could remain at 1 year, but the parental benefit would be changed to 50 weeks instead of the current 35 weeks. Any maternity leave taken would be deducted from available parental leave. The current system works for traditional families in which the mother can take 15 weeks of maternity leave, and then either parent can take the next 35 weeks of parental leave. The issue is that non-traditional families are excluded from accessing support for their child's full first year of life. Adoptive parents, same-sex parents (excluding cases where one same-sex parent is the birth mother), single fathers, and families with mothers who are ineligible for EI such as those who are self-employed, students, living with a disability at home, and even women who are the higher income earners - all these non-traditional family groups must place their infants in daycare after 35 weeks. Once benefits are updated to reflect family realities of 2017, to allow any parent to remain at home with EI support for the first year of their child's life, then other enhancements can be made such as extending the period over which leave can be taken to 18 months. But the first critical step is to address the injustice that the current system creates for families. We need to protect gains that have been made for women and maternity leave, but must also allow today's families to determine how to best meet their childcare needs. I truly hope this change will be considered as part of our country's strategy for infant childcare.
    Hide reply (1)
    • libby over 3 years ago
      when i think about the cost (financially, emotionally, health-wise, etc.) to families, i think - isn't the government and the canadian public fortunate to have us bearing the 'cost' of raising the next generation of taxpayers? yes, my child-less colleagues and peers are missing out on a lot - i would not have wanted to not have children. but my child-less colleagues and peers also will not spend a large part of their income on raising the next generation of taxpayers (they'll take holidays in the caribbean, instead) and they will certainly not take as big a 'hit' to their own canada pension as you and i did.
  • Jbreton over 3 years ago
    My comment is related to multiples. Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same amount of time as an child born individually would receive. There is also the issue of daycare for a parent when they return to work. Most families would agree that the cost of daycare when returning to work is ectremenglu difficult to locate for babies under 18 months & expensive. I wouod like to see maternity parental leave extended based on the number of babies in a birth. Even an additional 6 months per baby would be beneficial to families and still cheaper for the government than if they had to pay out a full leave per baby.
  • libby over 3 years ago
    our daughter was born in 2001: my partner took a one year parental leave (topped up to 85%) and i took an unpaid leave for the same year. we had to scrimp in order to manage this, but were motivated by the importance of forming a strong attachment relationship in that first year of life. we believe that our daughter is so happy and well-adjusted (stay tuned!) because her needs were met during that period. we consider ourselves fortunate to have been able to manage this, and recognize that there are few canadian families who can manage for a year on 85% of one partner's pay.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Patrick over 3 years ago
      I agree and there are even fewer that can live on 55% I for one was not able so I had to continue working full time. It's heartbreaking leaving your wife that can hardly get out of bed (and suffering from postpartum depression) with a crying baby..but I had to leave them both everyday because this program is a joke. I am to rich to be considered poor but too poor to be considered rich so I can't afford parental leave. This government talks about the middle class a lot but really only the rich can afford this luxury. You were very fortunate to have an employer that was willing to 'top up' your income but most people don't get their income topped up.
  • 555evrosa over 3 years ago
    This comment relates to availability of parental leave to students, recent immigrants, or women in traditional domestic roles who may not have enough contributions in the EI system to take benefits. Given the ongoing increase in precarious and unpaid work, we need to address this. Some relevant ideas that have crossed my mind: Allowing parents to withdraw from an RRSP at the time of a child's birth or adoption may begin to mold the overall work-life arc to a less masculine model of old age 'retirement'. Birth is not a gender neutral event. A change to RRSP withdrawal rules would allow women far more flexibility in our careers and family planning. We could also create a taxable guaranteed income for family caregivers of the young, disabled, and elderly. Taxable because further benefits may then be claimed against real income from domestic work, i.e. income-based student loan repayment plans. Domestic work is real work and we should be paid equally regardless of length of corporate employment participation. These are larger changes than the ones you put forward, but fundamental structural change is what is needed to further women's economic participation, in my opinion. In short, my perspective: I hold a graduate degree and have plenty of 'job' opportunities, but I've been hamstrung in my career due to no access to parental leave EI, (new citizen), absolutely no access to child care due to the Toronto crisis, and barriers to disability services for my dependents, especially in the public schools, who are literally ejecting our special needs kids. Thank you.
  • Kmitchell over 3 years ago
    At 6 months of age my child began a series of life long physical & intellectual challenges. Medically fragile. Weeks and sometimes months were spent in hospitals. Not to mention doctors, therapists appointments. We were lucky to have one day a week without an appointment. At the 12 month mark things were still unravelling & I had no option but to take an extended leave to care for my critically ill child. EI benefits ceased at 12 months. Our costs for just the essential equipment (feeding, seating, standing), hospital living, transport, occupational and physical therapy while waiting for funded programs to pick us up, purchase of a van to accommodate equipment were easily over $30,000. We had to do it all with no EI support. We went into debt & leaned on family because when we needed it the most EI was not an option. It made life nearly impossible... And all while we were facing the impossible. I've worked full time for over 12 years prior to this leave. Had never accessed EI prior to maternity leave ( I have only one child). Ive paid into the system my entire working life. I had no option but to return to work at the end of the extended leave for critically ill children... Because we needed the money... NOT because it was the best choice for helping my son reach his full potential. It's a heart breaking choice to have to make as a parent.
  • EP over 3 years ago
    The biggest thing that influenced how much time I took off work after having my baby is basically how much EI/parental benefits I was allowed from the government. My family cannot afford to live on only my husband's income, therefore I wanted to go back to work as soon as the benefits ended. I could have gone back to work earlier, but I preferred to stay home with my daughter as long as possible to avoid the child care costs and to facilitate breastfeeding. My 1 year of maternity leave is almost up and my daughter is not quite 1 year old. I would love to be able to stay home longer with her but financially it's just not feasible for our family.
  • BD over 3 years ago
    We adopted our second son in February of this year. We had to do a month-long transition between his foster home and our home (50 km of rush hour traffic between the two homes). During this month we were not eligible to receive EI and subsequently were not able to stop working. In one month we made the round trip 15 times, we were doing that while working full-time. My wife and I didn't feel this was ideal for our older son (adopted 2 years earlier and has issues with change) and our son we were adopting. After the transition I was only able to take 37 weeks off at home with our new son. This is due to the current EI policies that parental leave and not maternity leave applies for families who adopt. Our family, like many families, is not able to take time off without EI income and therefore we only took 37 weeks. Adoption doesn't get enough recognition for the separate issues that come with it. Children that are adopted deserve 12 months at home with a parent. This needs to include the transition period and is needed for proper attachment and the overall well-being of the child. It is in the government's best interest to have children who are adopted have at least the first 12 months at home with their forever family. It seems to me that an adoption equivalent to the maternity leave would be a simple solution to this problem. I am back at work now, but my son really should still be at home with his mom!
  • Dkvlietstra over 3 years ago
    L
  • Michelle over 3 years ago
    When I had my first child, I worked for an employer who "topped up" my salary to 75% for a full 12 months while I was on maternity/parental leave. This financial cushion ensured that it was not a financial hardship for me to take off the full 12 months. I worked for a different employer when I had my second child, and there was no salary "top up." With EI only at 55% of my previous salary, my family could not afford to have me out of the workforce for a full 12 months. I went back to work after 10 and a half months.
  • sshaw over 3 years ago
    I took the full year when my daughter was born in Dec. 2014, and will likely do so again in Feb. 2017. This decision is personal in nature and not financial. I mean this in the sense that I am the larger breadwinner and it makes absolutely no sense financially for me to take the year, but we both felt we had no choice because I am the only one who can breastfeed and it is virtually impossible to find childcare for a child under 12 months. The main issue I have with EI is the maximum. I work hard to have a good paying career, yet my maternity leave is provided at less than 20% of my regular earnings. This is a huge blow to our family income while I am on leave. My husband's salary alone does not cover our living expenses and mortgage (neither does mine - we need two incomes). This essentially means that as two well-educated professionals, we live cash negative for each year we choose to have a baby. I completely agree that EI should be a % of earnings, but the cap is way too low given our regular living expenses continue for the year and employer top-up is not mandated.
  • Kim over 3 years ago
    Unfortunately, despite all the programs encouraging women in science and engineering, having a baby during your PhD or post-doctoral time, is not ideal financially. I had my first child at the end of my PhD and was one of the lucky few to receive a 4 month paid period of time off (amounting to ~ $11000). During my post-doc now, I am expecting again and still do not pay into EI so don't qualify for EI. The NSERC program in Canadian government laboratories has a 4 month paid leave which amounts to less than 9 months of EI. I don't think this is fair as I am no longer a student and should be treated like an employee. The new post-doctoral program the government is testing does exactly this and treats post-docs as employees. Unfortunately, there has been no 'grandfathering' in of people under the old NSERC system. So I will take the 4 months leave plus some unpaid leave but it is particularly financially difficult for women having kids at this point in their careers. However, waiting to have kids may not work for some as it often takes people until they are 35 years old (longer if you are taking leaves for children) to get a permanent full-time scientist position. So far in hiring schemes for universities and government, I have not seen much weight be placed on the fact that a candidate had taken time off for maternity/parental leave. The number of publications is still a main driver in the hiring process. Long story short - if we really want to encourage women in these scientific careers, we need to look at the maternity and parental leave options from PhD onward, atleast.
  • stmarina over 3 years ago
    I took the full year that was paid for thru EI and topped up by my employer. My son was just 11 months when I had to return to work and seemed so little. We made the decision that my husband would stay home with my son for another year before we arranged child care for him. It has been the best decision we've made. Our son started childcare when he was old enough to communicate somewhat with his child care provider, and was able to cope with being away from his parents all day. It's been a conscious choice for my family and we sacrificed my husband's income for a year which delayed our plans to buy a house. It's been worth it, but I would love to see extended parental benefits- perhaps with a mechanism to encourage that parents share parental leave in some way. It helps support women in the workforce and will help to "even out" the "career pause" that many women take when their children are young because they feel guilty or pressured not to seek promotions when they are considering getting pregnant. Splitting parental leave between both parents would help even the playing field for women!
  • kodiak2016 over 3 years ago
    My son survived a suicide attempt, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and returned home after two months in the hospital. I had to quit my job to provide 24 hour supervision as he is at high risk for a negative outcome. Because he had recently turned 18, I did not qualify for parental benefits . I also did not qualify for end of life caregiver benefits, even though he does not have a good prognosis. I did quit my job and it has caused undo hardship on my already stressed family. Something needs to change in the near future regarding benefits for parents or other family caring for the seriously mentally ill. No one can care for my son the way I can, and sometimes it is a lifelong situation, not limited to 12 or 15 weeks.
  • kayleek over 3 years ago
    I ended up taking 18 months off- 12 paid through EI and the 6 were other unpaid and I had to resign from my job. I wasn't ready to go back to work before my son was a year old and we we're having a hard time finding a daycare that would accept children under 18 months. Those we're the two main factors when we decided it would be best for me to stay home a while longer. I was sad to leave my job but the extra time spent at home was necessary. We blew through our savings plus some (credit card debt) with the year of EI and the extra 6 months off- but I would take on the extra debt all over again to stay home those extra few months.
  • Kmarie1978 over 3 years ago
    I signed up for EI for self employees and it worked very well for my first baby. We then had our second 23 months later which has caused me to receive almost zero benefits because they use the previous calendar year (2015) to calculate Them. This completely screwed us over. One because I was still on maternity leave for a part of the year and two because as a self employed person it take so time to build business again after taking a year off. I hadn't to find clients, book work, complete the work, invoice them and get paid before I could use that income towards the EI benefits calculation. As a result, I only had a few months of income to claim even though I worked my butt off the entire time and also wasn't paying business expenses! In my opinion, they should treat self employment differently by averaging the previous five years of income. Self employment income can vary widely, be cyclical and doesn't necessarily fit nicely into a calendar year, especially when you've just comeback of family maternity leave. It's like ive been punished for having my kids too close together but I'm an older mom and didn't want to wait for health reasons.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Neil over 3 years ago
      This is another reason we haven't signed up for self-employed EI. My wife's income for this year, her startup year, will likely only be around $10k. If she goes on mat leave in late 2017, even though her rolling 12-month profit should be over the max, the benefit payment would be so miniscule as to be worthless. And we'd still be stuck paying premiums based on her full income (likely maxed out in future years) indefinitely.
  • Neil over 3 years ago
    My wife took a full year off work to care for our first child, and a further six months of job hunting once our son was old enough for daycare (very few spots exist for under-1 children). The hope was to split the leave 9 months/3 months, but as she was a contract worker with no guaranteed job to return to, I had no opportunity to be with him full-time, and because she was trying to return to work in the middle of Alberta's oil bust, we ultimately had a huge deficit to make up when she finally started earning money again...EI payments were adequate while they lasted, but the lack of coverage for the job-hunting period was not something we were able to afford on one salary, so our debt levels now are much higher than we'd expected when she first went on leave. Further, the deficiencies of EI for the self-employed are extremely apparent. Thanks to the oil bust, she never was able to find traditional employment, and is now self-employed. Money aside, being able to take more than a couple of months off from self-employment is impossible, and the economics of the voluntary EI coverage do not make sense if you aren't taking a full year (and completely screw people with unplanned pregnancies, since you have to sign up a full year in advance). The self-employed would be better served either by an option to opt-out again after any benefits received have been paid back, or by making coverage mandatory (and therefore cheaper) for all self-employed people. The voluntary situation throws up a gender-based barrier to self-employment, as women who hope to have children must either commit to a lifetime of additional costs not faced by men, or accept increased hardship during the earliest stages of their child's life.
  • cpmom over 3 years ago
    I am currently off with baby and still not sure what to do when time comes to return to work. I can't return full-time and the cost of childcare will mean I am lately working to protect my job and pay my babysitter. And I rely on single income. I am looking at work-from-home options and ultimately a better job but the fact that there are not affordable childcare options available is the issue. I could happily return to full-time work if I could afford and find an infant childcare spot in my neighbourhood. It should not have to be bleak for the three years between my maternity leave ending and my child entering school. Maybe develop programs that protect families in transition so benefits can still be received so not completely cut off but then I can take on some work of not all work. Or provide childcare to all families just like everyone can attend public schools. The burden on low or single income families is great and there should be greater support to help all families thrive.
  • Kimmi87 over 3 years ago
    My first 2 maternity/parental leaves were 4 months long as that's all we could afford at the maximum ei payout rate and still keep up on our various bills. Being the primary income earner and having my income cut to a small fraction (significantly less than 55%, as I made more than the max insurance amount) made it unsustainable for our family for me to take a full year off (nevermind 18 months). I've known several other moms who were primary or sole income earners who have had similar issues and taken shortened leaves or no leave at all. We were lucky to have family willing to help with child care for baby #1 and a daycare centre that had an opening for a 4 month old for baby #2, but we paid a significant premium for a baby under 12 months. A lower rate spread over 18 months would make this issue worse and would not, in my opinion, be of any benefit to families where the mother is the "breadwinner". As long as it remains an option, and not the default benefit structure, though, I see no harm as I'm sure there are other categories of people that would benefit. I would, however, love to see an option to go the other direction so parents could opt to take a shorter leave at a higher weekly rate (ultimately still collecting the same total benefit), as this would make a leave more available to those who otherwise can't afford to take the full 12 (or 18) months anyways, and ultimately lose out on a benefit they have paid into because of it.
  • Paige.kellyann over 3 years ago
    Child care (daycare) is extremely expensive and most are unable to take extra kids. A parent should never have to decide to save money because they simply can't afford the registered daycares for out of home daycares that are cheaper. For me, having twins finding daycare for both to go together was one challenge and then the cost was my monthly take home plus some at a salary of 30,000 a year. That's crazy. I understand that their are subsidy offers from the government but between daycare, msp, housing, food, vehicle costs working families simply cannot afford basic daycare (snacks and lunch not included, some even take music and crafts away from those who only pay for basic care)from a credible location. That is not ok. The situation has so many faults and the child always suffers in return regardless of how hard the parents try and cutback on anything and everything that isn't nessesities(food,cloths,home,transportation) something needs to change.
  • jen86kim over 3 years ago
    I took 18 months off for after my child was born. I wanted to spend time with my baby as much as I could. I now work ft and feel terrible leaving my child at daycare for 9 to 10 hours a day because of work. I wish that my employer would have flexible work hours so I could be with my child more after work.
  • jchappe over 3 years ago
    My twin boys were born 7 weeks early after a complicated pregnancy involving bed rest and pre-term labour. They spent 4 weeks in the NICU to which we received no additional support as the government determined being born at 32 weeks was "not risky enough" for additional support. Had they not been hospitalized they would have died. I delivered one baby and had an emergency c-section for the second and was still forced to start my mat leave even while all three of us were recovering in hospital. The government needs to support parents of multiples and recognize that two infants require twice the care in order to ensure proper bonding, and a healthy upbringing. Every child should be given the same support. Just because two children are born at the same time to the same mother does not justify cutting their support in half. The government is saving money on the backs of parents who have been dealt an incredibly challenging task of raising multiple infants at one time. This needs to change so that all children and parents are treated fairly and equally.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      To add an even more baffling angle to this, EI is paid out of premiums paid be employers and employees, not out of general government revenue. In 2014, the EI system got $22 billion in revenue. Fixing the multiple birth problem would cost in the vicinity of $30-40 million per year. That is a rounding error for the program as a whole. So, this is not about the cost from a program perspective. There are people that think that parents of multiples should not be getting equal treatment to care for their children and unfortunately some of them work at Employment and Social Development Canada. When will politicians stand up to them and put an end to this nonsense? Mr. Duclos, don't believe them when they say that this opens an unmanageable can of worms. Nothing could be more sound and confined than making every child worth the same potential amount of leave and benefits. It already applies to 97% of the population that have their children one at a time.
  • Karen over 3 years ago
    At the time of my first child I was a single parent so income replacement was a major issue. I was making well above the EI maximum and do live off such a small amount with a home, car payments and a mortgage was going to be next to impossible. I was able to take six months off and was fortunate enough to be able to return to my position. While I was off finding affordable child care for my return was a whole other issue. I wish I could have taken a year or more which would have allowed me to focus better when I was at work, and probably few days away due to a stronger immune system and adjust issues to a new caregiver. Depending on your job a year out of the work force can present many challenges to adjusting back to organizational changes and expectations.
  • brookecote over 3 years ago
    For both of my children, I was able to take the full 12 months of paid leave followed by 4 months of unpaid leave for a total of 16 months off. I was very lucky that my employer was able to accommodate my request for additional leave. It was difficult financially to take extra time, and we definitely incurred debt doing this. Upon returning to work I was required to pay back pension deficiencies – which was an additional expense. The main reason for choosing additional unpaid leave was because we wanted our children to only have to transition into care once and be in a daycare centre. As I was nearing the end of my first 12 month mat/pat leave we still didn’t have any viable options for centre based care, given most only start taking children at 18 months old. Some will take up to two children at 16 months old. With no family living in the same city as us to provide interim care while waiting for a spot, we decided to take a risk with unpaid leave, hoping something would open up. Fortunately, it did.
  • Cea074 over 3 years ago
    My twin sons were born 6 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy. They spent two months in NICU and now have ongoing medical needs. The government must support multiples parents by recognizing the increased load that caregivers face - from pregnancy, to delivery, recovery, hospital stays, complex medical needs, and daily childcare/treatments. Longer parental leaves, and the option to have both caregivers at home for an extended time (the first six months for example) is needed. Further, finding childcare for one 12 month old is hard enough; finding childcare for two 12 month olds (that does not bankrupt the family!) is nearly impossible. Profess needs to be made on increasing childcare spaces and affordability.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      There is typically nothing normal about having multiples in the first few years. I have heard many stories of mothers of multiples wishing to have another child to experience what is normal with having a baby. My experience with twins was stressful and getting short changed on leave and benefits made it worse.
  • laura over 3 years ago
    We have four amazing children, all single births. My position allows me to apply for a 6 month personal leave, which I did with our second and third and planning to with my fourth. It takes financial sacrifice but it is the best decision for us.
  • Lori B over 3 years ago
    We had twins, and I took my year for each baby - which means that I took one year paid, one year unpaid. What would have been particularly useful though, is if we could have had two concurrent years. If there is no appetite to adequately address the needs of multiples (by way of supporting their parents - because that *is* how a child-centred policy would consider this issue), then I hope that the 18 months can be used by both parents concurrently, e.g. both parents off together for the first 3 months, one parent home for the remaining 9 allowed.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      My partner also took an extra year with our twins and I was off for many weeks in the beginning without pay. The financial impact of having twins vs. two separate single children was massive and by its nature, unpredictable. What is insurance for if not to protect people against unpredictable consequences?
  • lblack-meddings over 3 years ago
    I had 13 months with my first and 12 with my second and third children. I could not afford to take any additional time as I had no pay nor any benefits once I went past the 12 months. The current benefit amount is not sufficient to allow many people to take that time off.
  • 90LTlS0OP2 over 3 years ago
    Our twin boys were born healthy and on time. However, because we are a single income home, and EI does not cover nearly enough income, I had to use vacation time to spend two weeks with my wife. Because of some minor complications post birth, we only spent one week at home before I had to go back to work. Doing this with two children was very taxing on our family. Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives.
  • tripleblessings over 3 years ago
    Multiple birth families are currently not fairly supported under the EI system. Each infant deserves the same attention, care and bonding time with parents that a single-born baby receives. I believe that EI parental leave should be available for 35 weeks PER BABY, not per pregnancy, in addition to the 15 weeks maternity leave. Furthermore, parental benefit weeks must be paid at the full EI rate, not a reduced rate spread over a longer period of time - very few families can afford to live on a reduced rate. I am a parent of triplets who were born prematurely and required round the clock care for many months. We needed both parents at home full time to care for them for the first 5 months. My husband could not take that much time off from his professional work, so we had to hire part-time help and also called on grandparents, friends and neighbours to help out. The babies' needs were overwhelming in their first year, and the financial strain, physical and emotional stress continued for several years. I know that extended EI benefits, both more weeks of parental leave and more $ benefits, would have helped us enormously and it would have been better for our babies' health and development to have more time with both parents at home. The current practice of allocating the 35-week parental leave and benefit on the basis of the pregnancy shortchanges parents of multiple birth children. Parental leave should be available at 35 weeks for each new baby joining the family: for twins, triplets or more, or adoption of more than one child at the same time. The purpose of the Parental Leave program is to provide time away from work and financial resources to enable parents to spend time caring for their newborn child. Every child and every parent matters. Increased EI parental benefits and extending parental leave time for multiple-birth families give more opportunities for parents to interact with their children individually, building critical bonding and attachment with each of their children and responding to each child’s unique needs.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      I am pretty sure that those that designed the program did not think about parents of triplets at all. I have much admiration for you and you deserve a medal for what you have been through. It is time for things to change. With roughly 100 sets of triplets per year in Canada, giving people in your situation the support they need and deserve is not a financial concern for the program as a whole.
  • Jeremy Khoo over 3 years ago
    I am currently on parental EI and located in Alberta. After talking to a service Canada rep, I am surprised to find out that if I lost my job during my parental leave, I do not get a full year of EI like the rest to find a job. Instead, the one year of regular EI period is reduced by the amount of time I taken on parental leave. For example, if I take 35 weeks off under parental leave, and lost my job during that time, instead of getting a full 52 weeks of EI to find a job, I am left with 17 weeks to find a job. It is a like a penalty for having a baby or taking parental leave, which defeats the purpose of EI or to be more accurate, to reduce the payout from service Canada. I am being stressed by service Canada to find a job during the parental leave because I am left with 17 weeks rather than 52 weeks to find a job. How is it fair for me to find a job in 17 weeks? Then what is the point of parental EI? I would hope that service Canada would be more reasonable and change the policy to not lump parental and regular EI under the same umbrella coverage. I do hope service Canada would contact me on this case. I don't think much will change but I do hope a middle ground could be reached.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • green_elizabeth over 3 years ago
      I also found that there were a lot of stories like yours about how having maternity/parental benefits structured under the same rules and policies as EI disadvantaged parents. For myself, I found that the penalties for trying to top up my income to a level that could continue to support our family was virtually impossible while on parental leave. Any money I brought in working contract work was counted against my parental benefits, and at the end of the day, it barely improved our situation and caused a lot of extra stress and triggered post-partum depression. Do we expect all parents to be able to downsize their living situations by 45% when they have a child? If you have the luxury of planning ahead and saving that much money, that's great, but many parents don't. So having the option to top up income to closer to our pre-leave income levels would be enormously beneficial to reducing the stress in the family during a leave. And finally, if I am on parental leave, return to my job, and am immediately laid off before I have worked a further 600 hours, I am not eligible for EI. So now I have a one year old baby, and no job, and no recourse to income while I look for work. I see parental benefits and EI as being two separate things, and I think that combining them punishes parents, and especially disadvantages women.
    • Jeremy Khoo over 3 years ago
      After reading other few comments, I realized we as citizen should at the very least acknowledge and praise Service Canada for giving the opportunity to us to voice out our opinions. This is a great step and should be recognized. Too many like myself are consumed with the flaws of EI and this ends up to be a complaining session. There is never a perfect system/ program but the fact that Service Canada is trying to improve itself is really great, and not wait till it hits the news and then the media and PM are all involved. Like many programs, the many challenges are trying to cover most situations (no program can satisfy every unique situation) while remain as close to net neutral (monies collected = monies paid out) and avoid being abused. As always, there are people that will try to beat the system, just like taxes. Hence why EI does not cover if you get fired, because you can trigger it. Not that I am working for service Canada but I feel it would be appropriate for others to understand the challenges service Canada faces (to what I can think). That said there are flaws that could be fixed as mentioned by one person, he needs only 4 weeks of parental leave but EI does not pay the first 2 weeks. That does not help when his family is single income and I am sure he would be pissed as he has paid to EI but cannot utilize it. The notion of first 2 weeks without pay (so called deductible, must have been an insurance person who gave them that idea) works for layoffs where the employer usually pays out 2 weeks or more but this does apply when he goes on parental EI. Another flaw that could be fixed is the adoptive parents have just as much stress and work to go through but somehow EI is broken down to maternity and parental. Is it another way to pay out less or simple not understanding the adoptive process? I am sure service Canada. There are many requests from different situations/ people and it would be impossible to expect service Canada to make changes to satisfy all of them. Not to mention the implication it might have, ie that the EI premium increases and that itself is a big can of worms. That said, it would be great if service Canada would compile a list of the things they think can be improved and be open on which ones they are tackling. At least this would give insight to parents to be on what they are going to get themselves into (though most do not look into it until they get pregnant anyways). An improvement to maternity/ parental EI would go a long way in helping Canada grow as a nation rather than relying on immigration to boost its population or to support its aging population. The cost of raising kids these days are increasing which explains why parents these days have less and less kid (we hardly hear people having 5-7 kids). If parental EI is more supportive, this would motive some (not all) to have more than one child. If all the people in Canada who got married has 1-2 kids, the population will shrink and soon the minority becomes the majority.
  • devonsj over 3 years ago
    EI is failing me and my family in two ways. First of all we are the parents of premature twins. Being given the same allocation of leave for multiple births compared to singletons is clearly unfair and disadvantages children in multiple births. These children are at higher risk of prematurity, medical complications and developmental problems. 2+ children clearly need and take more work than 1 child, often needing more than 1 parent to stay at home. Multiple births needed to be treated differently than singletons. Also I do not qualify for EI. I have worked full time for the past 10 years yet I cannot access any parental benefits due to our restrictive system. My children need no less care than children of people who qualify for EI. Instead I have to take unpaid leave. I looked into the option of opting into EI for self employed people but the system was not worth participating in. Canada should have a system like Quebec that helps all new parents. It is important for the health of all newborns and the financial security of all Canadian families.
  • Kbaudson over 3 years ago
    I was fortunate and was able to take 20 months with my first. I understand I was lucky but I wish this was not the case. My child clearly needed me beyond the allocated 12 months and this was the priority. Digestive issues meant that she depended highly on breastmilk. Financially there were sacrifices that were made, and i am sad that not all families have the luxury to make this decision.. The developmental changes we observed between 12, and 20 months were remarkable.
  • Lana Savard over 3 years ago
    Being able to stay home until 18 months with job security would make finding child care much easier and less expensive. This would also allow women to breastfeed longer as per Health Canada and WHO recommendations
  • Ashley over 3 years ago
    As a mother of 3 month old twins, I am not sure how I will be able to return to work when they are 12 months old. With the price of daycare and the 2 under 18 months rule it will be impossible for me to find a daycare for my girls. I am not willing to separate the girls from 12-18 months of age. I feel that having multiples should entitle a woman to an extended leave as much of my time off so far has been spent at medical appointments. I need extra time to bond with each child. Also, If they were born once after the other I would have received two leaves.
  • Idealafycanada over 3 years ago
    I think you are missing an important opportunity to right a wrong. We had two singleton children and then twins, I know that the current status quo for allocating parental leave does not work for multiple-birth children and families. Many countries recognize the need for enhanced benefits (more weeks) for pregnancies that result in more than one baby. Canada needs to match the physical demands of more than one baby with the benefits allocated to the parents. Parents who have two babies on two separate occasions get two full parental leaves. The same should be true for parents of twins or more. Having experienced both situations it is beyond evident to me that I was ready to go back to work with the first two much earlier than I was after having twins. Please make changes that make real sense for our babies and our families. Stop short changing multiple-birth parents.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      People contributing to this consultation have been mentioning over and over again how hard it is to find good daycare for a 12 month old. What is harder than that? Finding good care for two or three 12 month olds. In many places rules don't even allow it raising the prospect of needing to send twins or triplets to different daycares, as if getting out the door with that many infants to get to work isn't hard enough as it is. There is a simple thing that the government can do to help: make every child be worth 35 weeks of leave and benefits, thus allowing parents of multiple to be home longer with the same total support that parents of single babies get. Is there really anybody out there that has a problem with a parent of twins being home for 85 weeks or a parent of triplets being home for 120 weeks? The second parent could contribute at home as well, especially during those first 35 weeks. Fix this!
  • sfreitag over 3 years ago
    Before I started maternity leave, I asked my employer for 18-months. It was approved, but at 11-months my employer called to tell me the terms no longer worked for them. I needed to return to work in a month or resign. I couldn't find childcare and wasn't mentally prepared to leave my child. I resigned and found part time work. At 18-months I took on contract work, which combined with my part-time work equates to full-time hours. We're thinking of having another baby, however, if I took maternity leave it would only be at 55% of my part time wage (which is dramatically below my previous professional hourly wage) because my contract work doesn't pay into EI. I knew I could elect to pay into EI for those hours, however, discovered that if I pay into EI there's no guarantee I would receive parental benefits as my income would need to be determined as insurable by the CRA. I called the CRA and they informed me I need to fill out two forms that will launch a non-confidential investigation into the terms of my employment/contract and other employees with similar contracts to see if I can pay into EI or if they should be. If it is found that my employer should be paying into EI, they are liable for years of back pay. I feel uncomfortable launching that investigation into my employment terms without confidentiality regarding my identity as contract employment is not protected employment. I could jeopardize my relationship with my employer. So, I am left with the option of blindly opting into EI, but discovered that I can never opt out - that all my contract earnings would be EI. -deductible for the rest of my life. So, i am now searching for full-time, regular EI-paying work. However I feel that as a woman in my child-bearing years it's difficult to find professional work again. As such, I'm now working more hours for less pay than I was prior to mat leave. My decision to stay home with my child for 18-months without job security has had profound negative financial effect on my family and now means that I do not qualify for sufficient parental leave benefits to have another baby until I can find full-time work again.
  • Steph Plomp over 3 years ago
    As an adoptive parent, I was only entitled to parental leave and not maternity leave. I think this is horrible. I understand that part of maternity leave is meant for healing after childbirth and that's fine. However, just because I did not give birth does not mean that I don't have numerous other challenges which I need to deal with as an adoptive parent. For starters, we were only given nine days notice that we had been chosen to adopt our daughter. As you can imagine, this is not enough time to fully prepare for a child. On top of this, we also have to navigate the challenges of dealing with adoption in general. We had gone from no children to 9 days later having a newborn, having to get all the baby items we needed, meet our child's birth mother and family, work out a schedule for visits...and the list goes on. We had the added stresses of trying to not only becoming new parents but also navigate our open adoption. During the first portion of my parental leave, a large amount of time was spent on visits with birth mom and navigating this relationship. As an adoptive parent, who experienced a very fast adoption, I can tell you that this is emotionally draining. It can be very stressful and difficult to try and bond with your new child when you are in constant contact with their biological parent. We need to heal, emotionally, as adoptive parents and that takes time. I think it's absurd that I am deprived of those extra weeks at home with my child because I was not able to give birth to her. I also did not qualify for top up at my place of work because that's only eligible for those employees who are on maternity leave. This needs to change.
  • Patrick over 3 years ago
    I would love to take time off of work to spend time with my newborn and help my wife but EI is a joke. I tried to go through with it recently but I couldn't make it past the 2 week waiting period. The bills don't stop, the mortgage doesn't stop, the car insurance doesn't stop. This program is fine for people that make a good income to start off with but useless for families that are on 1 income because the other spouse is home with the kids. My wife needed me because of complications but I had to go back to work because of this useless program didn't help which led to more complications. She didn't need me for a year or more just first 2 or 3 weeks but parental benefits don't help people in that situation. I don't get it....the more I work the less I get paid and the longer I take off the more I make? Why is there a waiting period in the first place? My newborn and wife didn't wait two weeks after birth they needed help they right away.
  • louiselec2000 over 3 years ago
    On my last pregnancies, I was pregnant of twins. I was fortunate enough to get to 39 weeks term which is very rare. For most parents that have multiple birth pregnancies there are many complications, often premature babies and hospitalization are required, which takes times and energy from BOTH parents. EI maternity and parental leave should be given to both parents when it is a multiple birth situation for a whole year. There are 2 or more babies (not including the previous children that someone might have) to take care and you need all the hands that you can get in that situation. I had 2 healthy babies and I could not keep up at all. My husband ended up to take all his holidays (3 weeks) when the kids were born and then we struggles to try to get help because his employer did not want him to take anymore time off... There should be more help given to parents who are having multiple babies.
  • Xhris over 3 years ago
    In my view, giving more time for parents to bond with a newborn child reinforces thier sense of responsibility and commitment to family. If anything, making them both better parents as a result, in fact if one were to look upon the systems of other nationstates in Europe for paternaty leave, you will find that it allows parents a means of adjusting to the rigures of raising a child and better preparing thier children for the future. I for one am proud that our social security is expanding for a change. We need better support for the people of our nation with more oppurtunity for all. For when more and more of us succeed, the more prosperous we become. Not only will this begood dor the 'family unit' but also prevent domestic violence in the long run by having both parents volunteering thier efforts and time into the bonds of love and compassion. My only complaint is that the rate of support is uniform to support a family yet at a higher pace than what is suggested. If one were to ensure that the tax rate for those under $40000 per year was only at 1%, yet anything above $100,000 started at 10% and increased to 10% per 100k and capped at 60% for 600,000 and above, We could fund a mission to mars. But in all seriousness, retooling our system to be in line with the UK or France's for example, would actually cost less overall. The private system in the USA is overpriced and highly inefficient and the further we move away from that kind of 'american' system, the better off we will be. Child benefits and health-care are both basic human rights and need to be treated equally.
  • DragonMom over 3 years ago
    My daughter was born with a rare disease which is as of yet unnamed. She spent the first 10 months of her life in hospital fighting for her life. I brought her home as we were told she was going to die - it was just a matter of days or weeks. Within 3 weeks she was rushed to the palliative care home for end of life care but by some miracle she pulled through. Just over a month later my maternity leave was over and I had to return to work. I would have loved to stay home to care for her but there was no way we could survive on 1 salary. There needs to be income replacement for parents of medically fragile, technology dependent, complex care needs children that won't leave us worrying about losing our home, feeding our children, AND caring for a complex needs child.
  • kimforeman over 3 years ago
    We are currently deciding when I will return to work. At this time, I do not feel our son will be ready to go to daycare at a year due to his premature birth. We are considering one of us taking an additional six months of leave without pay however, this is a huge financial decision for our family.
  • vangerwen over 3 years ago
    I don't think the current system sufficiently takes into consideration the changing landscape of work today: more and more people are self-employed, contract or part-time. Paying into EI as a self-employed person didn't make sense for me; I was better off putting aside savings and living off that, but not everyone can afford to do that. Part-time or contract workers especially may just be getting by and not be able to save. I was fortunate that my husband took the entire parental leave that he was entitled to, but that left the weeks of maternity leave unclaimed. The other half of this conversation is accessible affordable child care. That system needs to change too.
  • Parental Grief over 3 years ago
    EI PARENTAL BENEFIT IN CASES OF PREGNANCY/INFANT LOSS: For parents who suffer a pregnancy and/or infant loss, the eligibility and period of EI parental benefit coverage(s) should be afforded to them, just the same as if had no such loss occurred (to allow time to enable the grief and recovery processes). While such a benefit could arguably fall under the EI Medical Benefit provisions (as a mental health issue), consideration to encompass it within the current confines of the Parental Benefit programme should also be given in order to recognise the profound role, and traumatic loss, that such persons must overcome as Parents in their own right.
    Hide reply (1)
    • chatscorm over 3 years ago
      Please consider this when making changes to the current system. As a bereaved parent, my benefits were cut off within 1 week of my child passing. This forced me to go back to work much sooner than I was ready. This is difficult to do as I was still in shock but it was also difficult for my employer as they found it difficult to find the best way to support me. There needs to be an acknowledgement that these children lived and that their parents need time to grieve without financial hardship. .
  • margaret.schwan over 3 years ago
    My first child was born prematurely and spent 2 months in the hospital before coming home. I was able to benefit from PCIC payments until he came home and then started my 50 weeks combined maternity/parental leave. Unfortunately my job was not protected beyond 12 months and I had to take an unpaid leave from work (because I took a total of 14 months off work). This resulted in me losing pensionable service time and having to pay my own benefits during this time. whatever happens regarding EI length it will be no good if legislation doesn't change to ensure employers protect the job for the entire 18 month period if the parent chooses to take all that time. With my second pregnancy I had twins and was off work for 12 weeks before my babies were born. Luckily I was able to benefit from sick leave EI payments during this time. Having to take maternity leave would have dramatically cut into the time I would have had at home with my babies after their birth. With a multiples pregnancy one thing that I think would be extremely helpful is if the benefit period were extended to 18 months and/or another caregiver could take 6 months of leave for the first half. It is extremely challenging caring for multiple newborns. I was fortunate that my mother took an unpaid leave from her job and came to live with us for 3 months. For some families that is not financially possible. In an ideal world I would have the full 12 month leave (or even better 18 months at a reduced EI rate) AND a second caregiver, my mother in this instance, would have also qualified for caregiver EI for 3-6 months.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      Parents of multiples are forced to use creative means to survive those first few months or years. It would be nice for the EI program to think about them a little instead of telling them that there is only one pregnancy and implicitly that they need to suck it up.
  • elicausi over 3 years ago
    Please consider parents of multiples when making policy changes. As a mother who went from 1 child to 3 children in under two years, 12 months was not enough time to spend with two infants. My employer allowed me the option of extending my maternity leave to 24 months but the financial implications for my family were huge. I had two children but only received EI benefit as if I had had one child.
    Hide reply (1)
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      Parents of multiples are forced to choose between severe financial hardship if both parents take time off or incredible stress of dealing with multiple newborns and juggling work obligations. Giving 35 weeks per child instead of per pregnancy is the first thing that must be done. Benefits on a per child basis is something that people take for granted until they have more than one at a time. Why the exception for multiples? Why should a vulnerable group be short changed compared with the reference scenario (parents that have one child at a time) given how hard it is? Where is the compassion?
  • dfovargue over 3 years ago
    With my second pregnancy I gave birth to twins. I decided to take an additional six months of unpaid leave after my 12 months of leave. The main reason behind this was finances. If I returned to work after 12 months I would have 3 children in daycare full time, with two of them at infant rates. After paying for monthly daycare costs, I would have been taking home about $200 a month. For our family, this decision did not make any sense. I would be working full time, have the stress of getting three young children ready and out the door every morning and then I would have less time to spend with the. Also, I had a very difficult transition back to work after my first maternity leave and anticipated it would be difficult after my second leave as well. My extra 6 months of leave did cause our family to take on some debt, and affected my pension as it was an unpaid leave. We also lost my benefits coverage for the 6 months extra that I was off. I was lucky that my job allowed me to take the extra 6 months off without risk of losing my position. I still feel it was the right decision for our family to have taken the extra time. The extra costs of caring for multiple children (twins, triplets, etc) and the high cost of having multiple children in daycare is what led to our decision. There needs to be some more flexibility in the system for parents of multiple births.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • elicausi over 3 years ago
      I agree with you very much! I was in the same boat. Had 3 children in under 2 years (older child and twins) and was able to take extra time off (I took 2 years). This was not paid. Benefits were out of pocket, affected my pension, seniority for raises.
    • christian_martin over 3 years ago
      Another way of looking at this is that you got less time and fewer benefits to care for each of your children than parents that have them one at a time and can take a year of time and benefits for each one. I believe it is not just a matter of flexibility but one of recognizing that each child and each parent deserves equal consideration. If each child was worth 35 weeks rather than each pregnancy (How does the latter make sense? It is the child that needs care and the 15 week maternity portion deals with the pregnancy), a parent of twins could perhaps be home for roughly 18 months with full benefits, or perhaps the second parent could have taken some time and benefits during those brutal first months. Parents of multiples should be asking for more than just flexibility. They deserve fair treatment and we must stop short changing them.
  • jennneilson over 3 years ago
    I was able to return to work part time after 14 months off work, because we had some personal savings. I went back to working full time again when my daughter turned two. It would be fabulous if returning to work part time were an option that was compatible with the new policy (for example, if you could use EI to top up your salary while working part time).