Maternity and Parental Leave – Baby Expenses I

by 4P and Mr. C

The post is part of the Baby Expenses Series. See the entire series here.

In Canada, new mothers are allowed by law to take 52 weeks off from their jobs. This time off is called maternity leave. During that period they are eligible for employment insurance (EI) benefits which are calculated as 55% of their normal earnings up to a maximum salary of $40,000. Some companies also offer a “top up” which usually involves paying the difference between what the mother gets from EI and some percentage of their normal salary. The top up amount and duration will vary from company to company – I’d be interested to hear what your company offers?


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New fathers are allowed to take up to 37 weeks off which is called parental leave however the EI benefits that are paid out have to be shared between the mother and father so they can’t both collect EI benefits at the same time. In my case my wife didn’t qualify for EI since she wasn’t working so I was able to collect EI benefits when I took my parental leave. The “top up” feature available to new mothers at some companies is also available to new fathers in some cases. At my company, most dads don’t get any EI since their wife gets all the EI benefits so their top up is calculated as though they were getting EI.

One misconception which I’ve heard from a number of my friends is that the time off has to be shared between the two parents and can’t total more than a year – this is not true, only the EI benefits have to be shared.

The EI benefits is calculated as 55% of the mother’s salary up to a salary of $40,000. The first two weeks of the maternity leave are unpaid so the EI benefits actually start on the the third week. My salary is more than $40k so I received the maximum benefit which is $413 per week. The actual payment after tax ($48) was $778 which I received every two weeks. In my case the withholding tax wasn’t enough but I think my company adjusted for it because I didn’t owe anything at tax time. You should keep in mind that you might end up owing some money at tax time because of this. You can get the withholding tax increased if desired.

The way to apply for EI is to go online at here. This contains all the steps you need. It also contains a link to the Quebec parental insurance plan which is different than for the other provinces. Basically you go online and fill out the required information and they will send you a pin number which will allow you to go here and see your online information. One of the items you will need from your employer is a form called “Record of Employment” which basically lists your financial employment for the past year. I went into my local Service Canada Centre when I got this form in order to complete my application. Applying for EI is not something you can do in advance, you have to wait until you have finished work before applying.

Something to keep in mind is that it will take about four to six weeks to get your first EI benefit deposited into your bank account, so don’t count on getting any money right away. Usually once you start getting them, you’ll get two or even three payments right away and then every two weeks after that.

When I was receiving EI benefits, I used the reporting feature of the online account to fill out my report every two weeks. This report basically says that you aren’t looking for work, are still not working etc. However in researching this post I realized that you can sign a declaration of exemption when applying which means you don’t have to fill out the reports every two weeks.

Tomorrow, I’ll be starting a series of posts where I take a look at the essential items that new parents should have.

Next Baby Expense post.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

51 Maggie

Hey guys… If anyone can help me out on this it would be much appreciated. I was working at a very stressful job that I hated for almost a year, before finding out I was pregnant about 2 months ago. Last week, I had a bit of a breakdown and told my boss I was quitting on the spot. Their response was to give me a week off to think about it.

I am wondering a bunch if things now, such as if I can go on stress leave now for a couple months, then return and immeadiatly take maternity leave, is that possible? Or if I get another job anywhere, will I still qualify for paid maternity leave eventually? Is there any other way I can some fianacial help after quitting? I tried looking at the government website about employment and stuff but couldn’t find any answers. I am a canadian citizen in alberta.

I really need some kind of help as I am only 19 and live with my man who doesn’t have a job right now (he’s on e.i taking a college course
). I’m scared.

52 harry

i am on parental leave right now, does my employer have to return my position to me when my leave is up or they allowed to give my position to someone else and let me go. my boss is telling me that if i come back they may have work for me. this is why i am asking

53 Aamna

Hi there.. If some One could help me out.. I waz working with a company before getting pregnent.. I used to get about 400-500 biweekly thn I got pregnant n continued to work the same for first 3 months.. Then it started getting difficult to work so I limit my hours and thn I used to get about 100 bucks bi weekly.. Although i hav completed 600 hours gir the benefits so u wanted to ask how much I can expect to get as my maternity benefits??

54 lenny

I have a question. My wife does not qualify for EI. Am I able to make a claim and continue to work and just have her collect the EI benefit on my behalf. Or do I have to stop work before I can claim.

55 Mike Holman

@Lenny – You have to stop work in order to claim.

56 Lenny

Thanks I thought that was probably be the case. Are there any other programs to help mother that don’t qualify for EI?

57 aman

I am currently 3 months pregnant. Due to pregnancy related complications, I have taken short term disability benefit for around 40 days. I will start going to office again next week. My concern is whether there is any effect of short term disability benefit payout (70% off salary in my case) on the EI benefit? While calculating the 55% of my salary for EI benefit, will it be on my immediate gross salary? What should be the minimum time for which I should be earning my last drawn salary so that I get 55% of the same and not the 55% of the already reduced salary due to STD benefit? Does the accumulation of 600 hrs apply immediately before taking the EI benefit and after STD benefit? I don’t want to end up getting 55% of STD salary which is already 70% of my gross salary.

58 Amina

I’m 2months pragnent’ icant seeem to figure to out how much ill get paid for my maternity leave , imake $460.00 per week can someone please let me know .

59 Francois

I ll like to know if someone can answer my question. I am a father since 5 months and I ll like to take parental leave, is it possible? My girl friend, she never asks for maternity leave.
I am working for the same employer 8 years in calgary.

60 DEE

I have been working for a temp agency for the last year as a casual employee, this means I don’t qualify for mat leave right?

I am worried how I will support my family when the new baby comes.

Any suggestions?

61 Joanne

Can you tell me how much I will earn after 52 weeks at the rate of 41 000$ on EI? Will I be able to earn the max. amount I believe that would be around 400$ weekly?

thank you,

62 Ben

Hello, I have 35 weeks of parental benefits and I’ve only used 5 of those weeks. I’m thinking about returning to work in 3 or 4 weeks so what I want to know is:

If I return to work my Employment Insurance claim is going to be closed? If that is the case, can I re open it later so I can claim the rest of the weeks I didn’t use ?

I live in Hamilton Ontario.

63 Andi


I was wondering if you have to work a year AND acquire 600 hours to qualify, or if you need only have worked 600 hours within the period of a year. It’s a bit confusing…

64 Dorothy


I just had our baby and applied for maternity benefits. Can my husband apply for paternity benefits at the same time? How would that work?
Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

65 harry

I am harry, I just want to confirm that can we (husband & wife) go on paternity leave on same time. My wife is starting the maternity from nov 07, 2012 & when can I get parent leave. Nobody can me clear my this point.
secondly my wife is going on maternity from nov 07, 2012, but her company mistakely sent the ROE to service canada. She talked with them, They said we don’t know anything now? What I shoud to ask them now. Can they send it again or not? I should to talk with service canada or not? leave on company all of it or not?
Last point If we both are on parently leave Can we go on back home (india ) or not?
please send me reply all of these points

66 Chelsea

I just found out that I am 6 weeks pregnant. I started a new job 3 months ago. Do I need to be working at the same place for a year to eligible for ei or do I just need 600 hours of insurance hours?

67 Bahar

I worked in calgary 1 year and 3 month and went for 1 year maternity leave now I am pregnant again. for second pregnancy how many hours I have to work till be eliguble for maternity leave?

68 Neil


If my wife took a one year maternity leave, can I, the husband, take a parental leave for 3 months when she goes back to work after maternity? Will I get EI for 3 months even though she got EI for one year?



69 Alicia

I just found out Im almost 6 months pregnant again, (I had no idea till now, as I didnt have the symptoms and was still regular every month) and am still on mat leave until end of August with our other child. I wont have built up enough time to qualify for EI. Which makes it really scary because we barely scrape by as it is, without me having to go without pay while I recupperate from haviing our 3rd child. Is there something else out there to help out women who dont qualify for EI?

70 Niznet

Hi There, Can any one help me with this please. I am not covered by EI. My baby is now almost 11 months old. My husband has been working over 2 years as a contractor and he is eligible for EI. Is it too late for him to apply EI parental benifit. will he still be eligible for 34 weeks. or EI parental benifit expires when the baby become 1 year old. Thank you

71 Sara


I was wondering the answer to this scenario

If for example, I am self-employed, and my husband has EI benefits and is employed, if I (the mother) would like to be the one to stay home with the baby, can I collect his EI benefits/top up, while he keeps working? So, I stay home let’s say for 17 weeks or however long we can collect, and he keeps working and earning a salary? Then he would be maxed out of EI benefits/top up for the year, and won’t be able to collect anything of course. Is this how it works? And if so, will this be based on his salary or mine?


72 haja

Hi there please help me. My wife is not working and I’m in a full time job I made around 25000 including tax last year and this year I almost made 21000 including tax till end of august. Now I’m planning to take parental leave for 36 weeks. So roughly how much I’ll get if I apply for EI. If they pay less than 1000 for a month which is not enough to run my family in that case can I request service Canada about my situation that is one income family as my wife not working .

Thank you

73 Rana zaro

I am gana go on mat leave soon… I will also apply for parental leave.I am not sure if the 55% will be based on my income (which is min wage with unregular hours) or family net income including my husbands income!!

74 Heather

I need some clarification. I have been working at the same place for 3 years. I am due on March 6th, 2015 and live in Ontario. I need to know what percentage of pay I will get when off on Maternity leave so that I can plan my expenses however my HR department keeps pushing this conversation off and I am getting very worried.
If I make just a touch more than 40k a year what might I be bringing home monthly? Would you know where I can go to figure this out?
Thank you for your help.

75 cora

Im on matt leave now and am wondering how many hours do I have to work before being eligible for matt leave again?

76 Stewart jeffery

If I get fired before I can take my perental leave can I still apply for it ?

77 Bob


Quick question…. If the mother is a stay at home mom and hasn’t worked for a few years is the husband eligible for paternal EI. Personally I see no reason for a husband to take time off if the wife doesn’t work anyways… Other than to get free money for sitting at home doing nothing. Also if the man on paternal EI works as a taxi driver and gets paid cash and didnt claim it wouldn’t this be illegal?


78 Lia

If my husband quits his job 2 months before my due date (for personal reasons), is he eligible for parental EI? I am not eligible.


79 David

“New fathers are allowed to take up to 37 weeks off which is called parental leave however the EI benefits that are paid out have to be shared between the mother and father so they can’t both collect EI benefits at the same time.”

The article is possibly incorrect on this point: (1) some parents online report receiving benefits concurrently, and (2) the Service Canada site claims otherwise at

“Question: Can my partner receive parental benefits while I am being paid maternity benefits? Answer: Yes. Between you and your partner you have 35 weeks of parental benefits and you can divide those weeks any way you like. …”

80 David

Here is another link relevant to my previous comment.

“… At the same time, eligibility was expanded so that parental benefits could be paid to either parent, or be divided between them, and may even be collected simultaneously.”

81 shal

I was wondering if you have to work a year AND acquire 600 hours to qualify, or if you need only have worked 600 hours within the period of a year. It’s a bit confusing…

82 brad graham

This question would fall under other monies when on mat. leave on your E.I. claim .If a women is on mat. leave does she have to claim money left to her from an estate (e.g.) $30,000.00.

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