2. Decide when you want to take your leave

I am going to be a parent. Can I get EI?
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2. Decide when you want to take your leave

There are rules about how soon you can start receiving maternity and parental benefits, and how late you can still receive them.

Maternity benefits

Only birth mothers can receive maternity benefits. You can start receiving EI maternity benefits up to12 weeks before your due date or birth date, whichever comes first. The window for collecting maternity benefits ends 17 weeks after your due date or the week you actually give birth, whichever date is later.

If your baby needs to stay in hospital, the window for collecting maternity benefits can be extended one week for each week your baby is in hospital.

Regardless of when you choose to start your EI maternity claim, the first week will be your waiting period and you will get no benefits for that week. So you will actually need a 16-week period to collect all 15 weeks of benefits you qualify for.

If you were on EI sickness benefits before you applied for maternity benefits, you might not have a waiting period.

Some people like to work right up to their due date so they can collect all of their 15 weeks after the baby is born. Other people prefer to take some time off before the baby is born. You can decide what is best for you and your family.

Parental benefits

EI parental benefits are for all new parents, not just birth mothers. You can get parental benefits for up to 35 weeks and they must be used within 52 weeks after the child’s birth or when the child you plan to adopt is placed with you. 

You can choose to get standard benefits or extended benefits. You can’t change your choice once either parent starts getting parental benefits.

Standard benefits: You can get parental benefits for up to 35 weeks.

You cannot receive these benefits later than 52 weeks after your child is born or placed with you for adoption, unless your child was hospitalized during that time.

If both parents have worked enough hours to receive EI parental benefits, they can share these 35 weeks of benefits. For example, one parent could claim 20 weeks and the other could claim 15 weeks.

If your child was born or placed with you for adoption on or after March 17, 2019, you get an extra 5 weeks of benefits to share. This means the parents can share up to 40 weeks of benefits. You can share them any way you like, as long as no one parent gets more than 35 weeks.

Extended benefits: If your child was born or placed with you for adoption on or after December 3, 2017, you can choose to get parental benefits for up to 61 weeks. You will get about the same total amount, but spread over a longer period.

You cannot receive extended benefits later than 78 weeks (about 18 months) after your child is born or placed with you for adoption, unless your child was hospitalized during that time.

If both parents have worked enough hours to receive EI parental benefits, they can share these 61 weeks of benefits. For example, one parent could claim 30 weeks and the other could claim 31 weeks.

If your child was born or placed with you for adoption on or after March 17, 2019, you get an extra 8 weeks of extended benefits to share. This means the parents can share up to 69 weeks of benefits. You can share them any way you like, as long as no one parent gets more than 61 weeks.

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Ontario Ministry of Labour
Reviewed: September 24, 2019

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