On September 27, 2020, the federal government of Canada will implement changes to its Employment Insurance (“EI”) programs. Currently, the EI maternity and parental benefits provide temporary income support to the following people:

  • People who are away from work because they’re pregnant or have recently given birth (“Maternity Benefits”); and/or
  • Parents who are away from work to care for their newborn or newly adopted child (“Parental Benefits”).

In order to be eligible, claimants must demonstrate that:

  • They are pregnant or have recently given birth when requesting maternity benefits;
  • They are a parent caring for their newborn or newly adopted child when requesting parental benefits;
  • Their regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week;
  • They accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of their claim or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter.

Those who qualify for Maternity Benefits may receive up to receive up to 55% of their earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week, for up to 15 weeks.

Those who qualify for Parental Benefits can chose between the following:

  • Standard Parental Benefits: may receive up to 55% of their earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week, for up to 40 weeks per parents. However, one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits;
  • Extended Parental Benefits: may receive up to 33% of their earnings, to a maximum of $344 a week, for up to 69 weeks per parents. However, one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks of extended benefits.

Announced Changes to the EI Maternity and Parental Benefits

The details of the changes can be summarized as follows:

  1. One-time Insurable Hours Credit

New claimants for EI Maternity and Parental Benefits will receive a temporary, one-time insurable hours credit of up to 480 insurable hours.

In other words, claimants need only accumulate 120 hours of insurable employment in the year prior to their application or since their last claim to be eligible for EI Maternity and Parental Benefits.

This credit is only offered once to new claimants, and only for a one-year period. Further, the credits will be retroactive to March 15, 2020 for claimants who wants to switch from Canada Emergency Response Benefits to EI Maternity and Parental Benefits.

  1. Minimum Benefit Rate

Claimants who are receiving or eligible to receive EI Maternity and Parental Benefits will receive at least $240 per week if this is higher than the benefits that they would otherwise be receiving.

The considerations outlined above are part of our continuing efforts to keep employees informed about the numerous changes implemented by the federal government in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you’re looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

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