1. Figure out if you qualify

You might qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) maternity or parental benefits if:

  • you worked enough during your
  • your normal weekly earnings have gone down by more than 40%
  • you're pregnant or recently gave birth, or you're a parent caring for a newborn or a child you recently adopted

Qualifying period

Your qualifying period is usually the last 52 weeks before the start of your claim.

Your qualifying period can sometimes be shorter than 52 weeks. For example, if you've been on EI in the past year, your qualifying period will only go back to the start of your last EI claim.

Your qualifying period can be longer than 52 weeks if there were times in the past year when you could not work. For example, you might not have been able to work because you were:

  • sick or injured,
  • pregnant, or
  • in jail and later found not guilty.

Self-employed workers

If you're self-employed, you can apply for maternity and parental benefits 12 months after Service Canada confirms that you signed up for the EI program.

You'll also need to have made a certain amount of money from your self-employed work. For example, to apply for benefits in 2023, you must have made at least $8,255 after tax in 2022. 

Insurable hours

To qualify for maternity or parental benefits, you usually need 600 insurable hours during your qualifying period.

The parent who was pregnant can use the same 600 hours to qualify for maternity benefits and parental benefits. 

You may have more than one job during your qualifying period. If so, you can add up the insurable hours from all of your jobs. 

Having a violation

If you have any violations in the last 5 years, you might need more insurable hours to qualify for EI.

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