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I am going to be a parent. Can I get EI?

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I am going to be a parent. Can I get EI?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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I am going to be a parent. Can I get EI?
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Reviewed: 
September 24, 2019
Answer

If you are going to be a parent and want to receive money while you are on leave, it might be possible to get Employment Insurance (EI).

There are 2 types of benefits for new parents under EI:

  • maternity benefits
  • parental benefits

You do not get more benefits if you:

  • have multiple births, like twins or triplets, or
  • adopt more than one child at the same time.

Maternity benefits

Up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits are available to women who either recently had a baby or who choose to leave work or cannot work because they are pregnant. Only a birth mother can receive maternity benefits.

If you work while collecting maternity benefits, any money you earn is deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.

Parental benefits

Parental benefits are available to any parent caring for a newborn child, a child they have adopted, or a child they plan to adopt. Both parents can apply but, if they are approved, they must split the weeks of parental benefits between them.

Parents can receive “standard” benefits for up to 35 weeks, or they can choose to receive roughly the same total amount of benefits over 61 weeks, which is called “extended” benefits.

If the child was born or placed for adoption on or after March 17, 2019, parents can get an extra 5 weeks of standard benefits or an extra 8 weeks of extended benefits.

For birth parents, parental benefits can start from the date the child is born. For adoptive parents, parental benefits usually start from the date the child is placed with the parents who have adopted or plan to adopt the child.

If you work while collecting parental benefits, you are allowed to keep some of the money you earn. This is called an "earnings exemption".

Unpaid leave

If you are pregnant, you can also take unpaid time off work without losing your job. This is called "taking a leave". If you are not pregnant or are not the birth parent, there is another type of unpaid leave you can take. These unpaid leaves are provided by the Employment Standards Act, not by EI.

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