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african american father comforting his ill son at home

November 9, 2017

Changes to Employment Insurance Program Coming in December 2017

The Government of Canada announced today that pending changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program will come into effect on December 3, 2017, including a new 15-week caregiver benefit; a new benefit that will be accessible to immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill; steps to simplify the process for acquiring medical certificates for the existing and new family caregiving benefits; and changes to parental leave benefits, such as earlier access to maternity leave for expectant new mothers and the option to choose an 18-month parental benefit (extended from 12).

Did you know…

  • EI benefits for new parents make up the largest share (over ⅔) of special benefits under the EI program.1
  • Each year roughly 170,000 biological mothers, 190,000 biological parents (including mothers) and nearly 1,700 adoptive parents claim EI special benefits.2
  • 87% of insured recent mothers across Canada were receiving maternity/parental benefits in 2015 – a rate that has changed little over the past 5 years.3
  • 30% of recent fathers across Canada claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits, up from only 3% in 2000.4
    • However, most of this change was the result of the increase in Quebec, where more generous benefits have been accessible since the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan was introduced in 2006:
      • 86% of recent dads in Quebec claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits in 2015, up from 28% in 2005.
      • 12% of recent dads in the rest of Canada claimed (or intended to claim) parental benefits in 2015, up slightly from 11% in 2005.
  • The number of new EI special claims established increased to 550,800 in 2015–2016 (+5.2% since 2014–2015).5
  • In 2015–2016, EI compassionate care benefits reported the largest year-over-year percentage change from 2014–2015, both in new claims established (+26%) and in total amounts paid (+46%).6



  1. Jennifer Robson, “Parental Benefits in Canada,” IRPP Study No. 63 (March 2017). Link: http://bit.ly/2mCaCt3.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey,” The Daily (November 16, 2016). Link: http://bit.ly/2oTsTPG.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Robson, 2017.
  6. Ibid.