StarMetro Vancouver - - LIFE -

Un­der the cur­rent Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance (EI) sys­tem, birth moth­ers get 15 weeks of ma­ter­nity leave, plus an additional 35 weeks of parental leave to split be­tween par­ents how­ever they like. In both cases, par­ents can get 55 per cent of their usual earn­ings, up to a max­i­mum of $543 per week — but only if they qual­ify for EI. Many peo­ple who haven’t worked enough hours or who have opted out of EI be­cause they’re self-em­ployed can’t ac­cess the ben­e­fit. Right now, these ben­e­fits can be col­lected up to one year af­ter baby’s birth. Start­ing Dec. 3, some par­ents will have the op­tion to spread them out over 18 months in­stead. The changes only ap­ply to em­ploy­ees in fed­er­ally reg­u­lated sec­tors such as pub­lic ser­vice, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and bank­ing. On­tario plans to of­fer the ex­ten­sion to all work­ers. Other prov­inces have yet to fol­low suit. Que­bec has its own sys­tem, with up to 55 weeks of par­tially paid leave, as well as three to five weeks of “use it or lose it,” non­trans­fer­able pa­ter­nity leave for fa­thers.

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