Canada maternity benefits help parents spend time with their newborns and newly adopted children.
Available Canada Maternity Benefits
Unlike the United States federal laws governing Maternity Leave, Canadian maternity benefits include both a component for leave and compensation. Based on your residential jurisdiction, you may qualify for anywhere from 17 weeks to 52 weeks of maternity, parental, or adoption leave from your place of employment without concern about losing your job. When you return from leave, you employer is required to reinstate you in your current position, or its equivalent, with the same benefits as you had before leaving. Additionally, the Canadian government may pay as much as 55 percent of your normal pay, up to a maximum of $413 a week, during a portion of your leave. For a pregnant woman, the portion of the leave that is eligible for monetary benefits is a maximum of 15 weeks. Parental benefits payable to biological or adoptive parents taking care of a newborn or a newly adopted child is a maximum of 35 weeks. Parents taking leave may also work minimal hours while on leave and continue to draw benefits.
To qualify for Canada maternity benefits, you must accumulate 600 hours of insurable earnings to qualify for up to 52 weeks of maternity and/or parental benefits and leave. The number of weeks you qualify to for is dependant on the provence in which you reside. Visit for a chart outlining how the benefits are determined.
How to Apply
To take advantage of the Canada maternity benefits, an employee needs to do the following:
- Notify the employer at least four weeks prior to commencement of maternity or parental leave.
- Specify the length of time you plan to be away on leave.
- Provide the employer with a certificate that confirms you are pregnant (or your spouse is). This document should be signed by the attending physician.
- Submit an Employment Insurance application at your local Human Resources Development of Canada office or apply online.
Replacing Lost Income During Maternity Leave
While a partial payment of your income during maternity leave is a wonderful benefit, most families would find it difficult to adjust to the financial straits that going weeks if not months without a full paycheck would create. If this is your situation, consider these options:
- Check with your employer about using your accumulated sick leave, vacation, and personal days for maternity leave. This means whatever paid time you can accumulate prior to and during pregnancy can be taken during your time home with your newborn baby.
- Short-term disability insurance can be purchased to cover a portion of your salary when you are unable to work due to illness, injury, or childbirth. You can purchase short-term disability insurance privately, or it may be offered as part of your benefits package through your employer.
Apply for Benefits Online
To apply for Canada maternity benefits online, visit Service Canada.