PATERNITY LEAVE IN CANADA
In March 2019, the federal government made some key changes to the rules governing parental and maternity leave in Canada. Previously, parents had access to 35 weeks of paid leave to split whichever way they wanted. Now, there is an additional five weeks provided that parents share the leave and benefits, creating an incentive for fathers to take the time to care for their newborn. It may not seem like the biggest change, but the government has given Canadian dads a big incentive to take paternity leave.
This change was inspired by the policy in Quebec, which introduced an additional five weeks of “use it or lose it” parental leave in 2006. Within five years of the policy coming into effect, the rate of dads taking paternity leave rose from 22 percent to 84 percent (compared with only 11 percent of dads in the rest of Canada.) Dad’s taking leave in Quebec also jumped because benefits were increased (it’s 40 weeks at 75 percent of salary or 55 weeks at 70), and temporary and self-employed workers are also covered.
Who Can Get It
All parents are eligible, as long as you have at least 600 hours of work under the Employment Insurance system during the previous 52 weeks. There is a two-week “waiting period” before benefits kick in, which parents should factor into their budgeting.
How it works
The standard parental benefits are paid for a maximum of 35 shared weeks plus 5 weeks of “daddy days”. It must be paid within a year of the birth, or adoption, of the child. The weekly benefit rate is 55 percent of the parent’s average weekly insurable earnings.
Extended parental benefits are paid for a maximum of 61 shared weeks plus 8 weeks of “daddy days”. Benefits must be paid within 78 weeks after the child was born or adopted. The benefit rate is 33 percent of the parent’s average weekly insurable earnings.
Further reading and to apply
For further information on this topic, the Government of Canada breaks down the benefits.
Michael Kaufman, The Time Has Come. Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution, Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2019, p.144