Canada’s new parental benefits are some good news from Federal Budget that happened last Wednesday, Mar. 22, 2017. The Liberal government is making parental leave more flexible so that mothers and fathers can choose to take more time while still getting government benefits. This budget will expand parental and maternity leave benefits to make them more flexible for families. The highlights of the new benefits is that parents can choose to take their benefits over 18 months instead of 12 months, at 33 percent of weekly earnings or keep the existing 12 months to 55 percent.
Here are 5 things to know about the new parental benefits:
- Mothers may start maternity leave up to 12 weeks before the baby is born. It was eight weeks under the old plan. Parents can stretch it out to 18 months from 12 months.
- Parents can split the leave as they choose once the mother has taken 15 weeks of designated maternity leave. Couples may also take parental leave at the same time, but they can’t double-up on the benefits. There’s only one cheque per household.
- Parents need to have worked at least 600 hours in the last year. Self-employed parents also qualify – if they have been paying employment insurance premiums for 12 months before taking leave. The Liberals have also previously reduced the waiting period to one week from two. In Quebec, parents only need to have earned $2,000.
- Quebec gives parents larger benefits. The only province that gives weekly cheques work out to nearly $900 a week. Quebec has also eliminated any waiting period, significantly reducing what it takes to qualify and gives the option of taking a shorter time for more money. They also offer a special deal just for fathers: five weeks of paid leave for them to use or lose.
- The government changes may not happen until next year. The government still needs to pass legislation to amend the Employment Insurance Act, and changes have to be made to both federal and provincial labor codes.
Do you think these are good changes? Allowing parents the option of 18 months can save on daycare costs. However, the favor still depends on the parent/s situation in Canada. In addition, one of the good news is for families that are planning to have a baby this year might like to consider these changes.