Canadian families planning to have or adopt a new child will see more flexibility in the parental leave program in just a few weeks time.

On Thursday, the federal government announced a change allowing parents to receive up to 18 months of Employment Insurance benefits after the birth of a child.

Beginning December 3rd, parents will now have the option to take the standard 55% of an average salary over 12 months, or 33% over 18 months.

Mothers will also be afforded 12 weeks of maternity benefits prior to the arrival of their child, offering increased flexibility for families.

Additionally, family caregivers will gain access to new benefits. They are now permitted a 15-week leave to attend to a critically ill or injured adult or a 35-week leave to care for a critically ill or injured child.

As it stands, the parental leave program provides mothers with 17 weeks of employment insurance, with an additional 35 weeks that can be split between two parents.

Changes apply to federally regulated workplaces

The changes will only apply to federally regulated workplaces such as public service, banks, telecom companies, and transportation companies – or roughly 8% of the Canadian workforce.

Provincial changes are still needed for the other 92 per cent of Canadian workers to access similar leave. So far, Ontario has publicly said it will adjust its legislation, and it is expected that these federal changes will create demand for similar alterations at the provincial level.

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