Families in Canada Interactive Timeline

Today’s society and today’s families would have been difficult to imagine, let alone understand, a half-century ago. Data shows that families and family life in Canada have become increasingly diverse and complex across generations – a reality highlighted when one looks at broader trends over time.

But even as families evolve, their impact over the years has remained constant. This is due to the many functions and roles they perform for individuals and communities alike – families are, have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of our society, the engine of our economy and at the centre of our hearts.

Learn about the evolution of families in Canada over the past half-century with our Families in Canada Interactive Timeline – a online resource from the Vanier Institute that highlights trends on diverse topics such as motherhood and fatherhood, family relationships, living arrangements, children and seniors, work–life, health and well-being, family care and much more.

View the Families in Canada Interactive Timeline.*

 

Full topic list:

  • Motherhood
    o Maternal age
    o Fertility
    o Labour force participation
    o Education
    o Stay-at-home moms
  • Fatherhood
    o Family relationships
    o Employment
    o Care and unpaid work
    o Work–life
  • Demographics
    o Life expectancy
    o Seniors and elders
    o Children and youth
    o Immigrant families
  • Families and Households
    o Family structure
    o Family finances
    o Household size
    o Housing
  • Health and Well-Being
    o Babies and birth
    o Health
    o Life expectancy
    o Death and dying

View all source information for all statistics in Families in Canada Interactive Timeline.

 

* Note: The timeline is accessible only via desktop computer and does not work on smartphones.


Published February 8, 2018




A Snapshot of Family Diversity in Canada (February 2018)

Download A Snapshot of Family Diversity in Canada (February 2018).


For more than 50 years, the Vanier Institute of the Family has monitored, studied and discussed trends in families and family life in Canada. From the beginning, the evidence has consistently made one thing clear: there is no single story to tell, because families are as diverse as the people who comprise them.

This has always been the case, whether one examines family structures, family identities, family living arrangements, family lifestyles, family experiences or whether one looks at the individual traits of family members, such as their ethnocultural background, immigration status, sexual orientation or their diverse abilities.

Building on our recent infographic, Family Diversity in Canada (2016 Census Update), our new Statistical Snapshot publication provides an expanded and more detailed portrait of modern families in Canada, as well as some of the trends that have shaped our vibrant and evolving family landscape over the years. Based on current data and trend analysis, this overview shows that diversity is, was and will continue to be a key characteristic of family life for generations to come – a reality that contributes to Canada’s dynamic and evolving society.

Highlights include:

  • According to Statistics Canada, there were 9.8 million Census families living across Canada in 2016.
  • 66% of families in Canada include a married couple, 18% are living common-law and 16% are lone-parent families – diverse family structures that continuously evolve.
  • Among Canada’s provinces, people in Quebec stand out with regard to couple/relationship formation, with a greater share living common-law than the rest of Canada (40% vs. 16%, respectively) and fewer married couples (60% vs. 84%, respectively) in 2016.
  • In 2016, 1.7 million people in Canada reported having an Aboriginal identity: 58% First Nations, 35% Métis, 3.9% Inuk (Inuit), 1.4% other Aboriginal identity and 1.3% with more than one Aboriginal identity.
  • In 2016, 22% of people in Canada reported that they were born outside the country – up from 16% in 1961.
  • In 2016, more than 1 in 5 people in Canada (22%) reported belonging to a visible minority group, 3 in 10 of whom were born in Canada.
  • 73,000 same-sex couples were counted in the 2016 Census, 12% of whom are raising children.
  • In 2016, there were nearly 404,000 multi-generational households in Canada – the fastest-growing household type since 2001 (+38%).
  • In 2011, 22% of Inuk (Inuit) grandparents, 14% of First Nations grandparents and 5% of Métis grandparents lived with their grandchildren, compared with 3.9% of among non-Indigenous grandparents.
  • In 2014, 1 in 5 Canadians aged 25 to 64 reported living with at least one disability. Disability rates were higher for women (23%) than men (18%).
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of Canadians surveyed in 2014 said religion is “very important” in their lives.
  • One-quarter of Canadians reported “no religious affiliation” in the 2011 Census (most recent data available), up from 17% in 2001.

Download A Snapshot of Family Diversity in Canada (February 2018).

This bilingual resource is a perpetual publication, and will be updated periodically as new data emerges (older versions are available upon request). Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to find out about updates, as well as other news about publications, projects and initiatives from the Vanier Institute.

Learn more about family diversity in Canada:

Infographic: Family Diversity in Canada (2016 Census Update)
What’s in a Name? Defining Family in a Diverse Society
Infographic: Modern Couples in Canada (2016 Census Update)
Timeline: 50 Years of Families in Canada
A Snapshot of Military and Veteran Families in Canada
Polyamory in Canada: Research on an Emerging Family Structure
Strength in Diversity: Positive Impacts of Children with Disabilities
Beyond the “Ideal”: Beryl Plumptre and the Vanier Institute’s Definition of “Family”
Sharing a Roof: Multi-generational Homes in Canada (2016 Census Update)
Facts and Stats: Indigenous Families in Canada
Living Apart, Together: LAT Couples in Canada

 


Published on February 6, 2018




Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada (January 2018)

Much like families themselves, family finances in Canada is a topic characterized by diversity, complexity and perpetual evolution. Family income is no exception. 2016 Census data shows that households across Canada receive income from a variety of sources, and these economic arrangements change over time as families adapt and react to social, economic, cultural and environmental forces.

The complex and multi-faceted nature of family finances can make it a difficult topic to fully comprehend. No measure of family finances exists in isolation, and all are interconnected: if a family’s income is too low, then it may be impossible for them to build savings; if expenses are too high, debt may be just around the corner; if debt is too high, it can reduce family wealth – and so on. However, much can be learned about the whole of finances by examining the topic through a family lens.

Every family household has its own unique constellation of income sources that they manage to fulfill their obligations at home and in their communities. These arrangements typically aren’t static – they evolve throughout the life cycle as family circumstances change, along with the resources available to them.

To explore this topic in further detail, the Vanier Institute has published Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada (January 2018).

Highlights include:

  • In 2015, the total median household income in Canada was approximately $70,300 before taxes ($61,300 after taxes), and $34,200 before taxes (just under $30,900 after taxes) for individuals.
  • Household income included revenue from a variety of sources, including employment income (approximately 71% of Canadians received employment income), investments (30%), CPP/QPP benefits (23%), OAS/GIS benefits (18%), the Canada Child Tax Benefit (11%), Employment Insurance benefits (9%), social assistance (5%) and more.
  • Incomes are lower than the national average and low-income rates are higher for women; First Nations, Inuk (Inuit) and Métis people; immigrants (particularly for recent immigrants and non-permanent residents); visible minorities; and persons living with disabilities.
  • In 2015, nearly one-third (32%) of married or common-law couples in Canada received “fairly equal” incomes, although, on average, women earned an estimated $0.87 for every dollar earned by men.
  • Debt is consuming a smaller share of household income than in previous decades, with the share of income devoted to servicing the interest on household debt falling from 10.8% in 1991 to 6.4% in 2015.
  • One in five (19.8%) seniors in Canada (1.1M) reported that they worked at some point in 2015 – nearly twice the rate recorded in 1995 (10.1%).
  • Many Canadians of all ages plan to keep working to ensure sufficient income as seniors, with more than one-third (36%) reporting in 2014 that ongoing employment earnings are a part of their financial retirement plan.

Income in Canada is a part of the Vanier Institute’s Modern Family Finances series, which addresses particular topics such as income and expenditures; savings and debt; and wealth and net worth. Subsequent editions in this series will focus on unique experiences such as family finances among military and Veteran families, families on the move, and families living with disability.

This bilingual resource will be updated periodically as new data emerges. Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to find out about updates, as well as other news about publications, projects and initiatives from the Vanier Institute.

Download Modern Family Finances: Income in Canada from the Vanier Institute of the Family.

Learn more about family finances in Canada:

 


Published on January 30, 2018




Vanier Institute Update: January 2018

 What’s New

 What We’re Reading

What’s in the Media 

 

To automatically receive monthly updates about our publications, projects and networks, sign up for our e-newsletter.

 


Published on January 26, 2018

 




Webinar Content: Changes to EI Special Benefits

Note: Originally published on November 7, 2017. With the recent changes to parental leave and EI Special Benefits in Canada, we’re highlighting this piece again since it provides context and data related to the ongoing discussion surrounding parental leave, work and families in Canada. Learn more in Supporting Dads: Paternity Leave and Benefits in Canada.

 


Content and resources are now available from our November 1, 2017 webinar on upcoming changes to EI Special Benefits in Canada!

The Vanier Institute of the Family hosted a public webinar on pending changes to EI Special Benefits, including the availability of extended parental benefits option, changes to maternity and caregiving benefits, and implications for workplace policies and practices.

Two panellists from Employment and Social Development Canada participated in this event. Andrew Brown (Acting Director General Employment Insurance Policy) and Rutha Astravas (Director of Special Benefits, Employment Insurance Policy) discussed upcoming changes and shared in a dialogue to better understand the consequences for both employers and employees. This timely and important webinar also covered fundamentals of employer-provided top-ups (supplemental EI benefits), administration of the new program and implications for new fathers in the workplace.

WEBINAR RESOURCES (available in English and French):

 


Webinar Transcript: Changes to Parental, Maternity and Caregiving Benefits

The following is an excerpt from this webinar, which provides an overview of upcoming changes to EI Special Benefits.

Check against delivery

Nora Spinks (NS), Chief Executive Officer, The Vanier Institute of the Family

Thanks, Lauren, and good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to begin by welcoming our subject matter experts, Andrew Brown, Acting Director General; and Rutha Astravas, who’s Director both at the Employment Insurance Policy Directorate and at Employment and Social Development Canada.

Now just before we begin with our experts, I would just like to provide a little bit of context for our comments today.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Families are dynamic and families are continually adapting. In a recent listening tour that we held across the country, we asked people to define families by answering the question “Family is…” and we got responses from Canadians all across the country: from new Canadians, Indigenous families, immigrant refugee families, families affected by incarceration, families with low income, high income, rural, urban, you name it, and they all answered what family is. The top three answers were: family is love, family is care, and family is support. We’re going to talk today about the care side of what family is.

These days, motherhood is more likely to include not only caring for children but also participation in family finances, generating income, employment in a paid labour force. Millennial dads are redefining parenting every day. In the 50s and 60s, we used to hear dads refer to “my wife is pregnant.” In the 70s and 80s, “my wife is expecting.” By the 90s, we started to hear the phrase “we are expecting.” And recently I was at a session with some young dads and they referred to “we delivered.”

Millennial dads are redefining parenting. They’re more actively involved than ever before. They’re involved from beginning to end. They’re actively involved in labour and delivery as well as care for the newborn. Families are diverse. Families across this country are made up of individuals who love, care and support one another. There is no one-size-fits-all. What does hold them together is this concept of caring, and most care is provided while they’re in the paid labour force.

When we look at the issues before us today, it’s important to understand that when we talk about family, we’re really talking about self-defining family. It’s not just a traditional or a legal definition of family but how families define themselves, and that’s going to be important as we continue our conversation today.

Caregiving is a big part of families, whether it’s caring for a newborn or caring for our seniors and elders and everybody in between. When we look at care and caregiving, we also have to look at work. So when we look at work, the next generation is redefining what work is and what work is important, and redefining work and family.

Now there are three ways that people are defining work and family these days. They’re either separating work and family and work begins and work ends and life happens around it, or integrated, where you might work part-time or flexible hours or flexible locations and you integrate work and life, or you may blend work and life, where work is simply a part of life and all of life happens of which work is simply a part.

Now it is also important when we start talking about the modern workplace, and today’s workplace is as diverse as our families are, and employers all across the country are creating inclusive, supportive work environments. It’s within that context that we’re going to begin our conversation today as we talk about employment insurance and special benefits.

So we’re going to begin our first segment looking at maternity, parental and family caregiving, and when we do, it’s important to recognize that there are several elements related to the conversation. One is the benefits, which we’re going to be focusing on today with our special guest, which is employment insurance, which is the cash benefit that families receive. Often confused with or treated the same as leave, and that’s where you have job protected leave that’s protected under either the Canada Labour Code, if you’re part of a federally regulated industry, or your provincial or territorial employment standards legislation, or if you’re part of a union, a collective agreement.

In addition to benefits and leave, there are also workplace programs, which are optional, which are available in some workplaces, such as top-ups, flexible return from leave, and we’ll be talking a little bit about those today as well. And you can’t talk about benefits, leaves and workplaces without also recognizing and acknowledging community programs and services which exist in neighborhoods, which include child care programs, parent and tote programs, before and after school initiatives, caregiving for seniors or people with mental illness. So community services and programs, although we won’t be getting into in this call, need to be considered as part of the context.

So I’d like to begin by asking Andrew from Employment and Social Development Canada to walk us through our existing employment insurance special benefits and then we’ll go from there to identifying and focusing on what’s new and different. Andrew?

Andrew Brown (AB), Acting Director, General Employment Insurance Policy, Employment and Social Development Canada

Great. Thanks, Nora. And really pleased to join you, the Vanier Institute and all of those on the line for this webinar today. So, as Nora asked, I want to take you through the existing EI special benefits before coming to the changes.

First off, I also want to just let you know that there have been no changes to the rules for qualifying for EI special benefits. The worker still requires 600 hours of work in the previous year to be eligible, and benefits are generally paid at 55 percent of the average weekly earnings up to a cap. So those are elements that are not changing with the program.

Let’s begin with maternity benefit. They provide support for up to 15 weeks for workers who leave work due to pregnancy or for recovery from childbirth. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Canadian families welcome new children into their lives and they need to balance work with care responsibilities during this important time.

Let’s move on to the—next up, parental benefits. So as a complement to maternity benefits, these benefits are available for parents who take time to care for a newborn or a newly adopted child. Parental benefits are available to opposite- and same-sex parents and may be shared. They’re currently available for up to 35 weeks.

Third, sickness benefits. These have been unchanged in the budget and provide up to 15 weeks of support for workers who are injured—who are suffering from an illness or are injured.

Then the compassionate care benefit, this was introduced in 2004 as a 6-week benefit. In 2016, compassionate care benefits were extended to 26 weeks and provide support to family members providing end-of-life care. For the compassionate care benefit, the concept of family is very broad and includes more distant relatives as well as a caregiver who is considered to be like family.

Finally, the family caregiver benefit is to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured child or adult who requires care or support. So what was already existing was the benefits available to parents of critically ill children benefit providing up to 35 weeks of support since 2013, and we’ll be speaking shortly to the new benefit that allows Canadians to provide care to a critically ill adult.

NS: Thank you, Andrew, for that quick overview. So we’ve heard from Budget 2017 that there are a number of new changes to EI special benefits. Can you just walk through some of the principles behind those changes?

AB: Certainly. There are really three principles that are guiding the changes to the EI special benefits, and the first of those is flexibility. We’re providing more choice around the timing when the benefits can be taken to help families balance work and family responsibilities. This is particularly true for the changes to maternity and parental benefits. Parents will have more flexibility in how they take the parental benefit weeks with more weeks available to share. There will also be more flexibility in terms of who can receive EI benefits while providing care to a family member.

The second is accessibility. We’re making it easier to access the EI caregiving benefits by expanding the suite of EI benefits for caregivers to cover a greater range of caregiving situations. We’re also making EI caregiving benefits easier to access by expanding the list of who’s eligible to sign medical certificates to include not only doctors but also nurse practitioners. With these changes, we expect to provide improved access particularly for Canadians in rural and remote areas.

The third of the principles is inclusion. For greater inclusion, we’re expanding the list of eligible family members who can provide care to a critically ill or a gravely ill loved one—as I mentioned, immediate extended family members and those considered to be like family are eligible to provide care under the compassionate care benefit and the same now under the family caregiver benefit. By providing choice in parental benefit duration, we’re also being more inclusive to address the diverse needs of parents. So we’ll get into more specifics on the changes to each of the benefits in a moment.

NS: So just before we do that, Andrew, we can’t talk about EI benefits without mentioning Quebec. Can you let us know how Quebec fits in the new program?

AB: Yes. Important to note that in the Province of Quebec the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan provides maternity and parental benefits to residents, and so the changes to EI maternity and parental benefits do not apply to residents of the Province of Quebec. However, EI caregiving benefits do apply across the country, including in Quebec. So just to reiterate, you’ll notice on our slides that we flagged that maternity parental benefits are applied across the country aside from Quebec.

NS: Okay. So what’s really new here is that even though the EI program excludes Quebec the caregiver benefits will include Quebec.

AB: That’s correct.

NS: Is that another layer of complication on that? Okay. So let’s get into the new maternity benefits specifically that will be available. Now what we haven’t talked about is when these new programs are going to be available. Can you give us a hint about what the timing is for these new benefits?

AB: Okay. The specific coming-into-force date for the new measure has yet to be announced. We’re expecting that there will be an announcement coming shortly, but we do expect that the benefit provisions will be coming into force by the end of the year.

For maternity benefits, as I mentioned, there’s additional flexibility regarding the time period during which benefits may be paid, and it’s now possible to access them sooner. So, previously, they could be accessed as early as 8 weeks prior to the expected date of birth, and they could be taken as late as 17 weeks after the date of birth. The new flexibility is that it will now be possible to access maternity benefits up to 12 weeks prior to the expected date of birth or up to 4 weeks earlier.

NS: So there are no additional weeks, but you can just shift the clock ahead 4 weeks to 12 weeks prior to the expected date of birth.

AB: That’s right. So it is providing some additional flexibility to a birth mother. The trade-off being that if you receive your maternity benefits sooner, they’re not available following the birth.

NS: Right. And now just to be clear, if there’s a complication due to a pregnancy and say you’re on doctor-ordered bed rest for a couple of months prior to birth, can you access your sick benefits if you don’t already have sick benefits from work through the EI program in addition to your maternity benefits?

AB: Yes, you can also access sickness benefits. Sickness benefits may be accessed before or after the maternity benefit.

NS: Okay, great. So let’s look at the new flexibility and choice in parental benefits.

AB: Okay. So the big change for EI parental benefits is that parents will be able to select between two options when they’re applying. In fact, they’ll need to select between either the standard parental benefits option, which is to have those benefits—35 weeks being paid at a 55 percent average weekly benefit—at a benefit rate that’s equal to 55 percent of their average weekly earnings, or to select the extended parental benefits option, which is to receive 61 weeks of benefits paid at a lower rate, 33 percent of their average weekly earnings.

The reduced rate, important to note, only applies to the parental benefit, so it does not have an impact on maternity benefits. Also important to keep in mind that parental benefits can be paid at the same time or at different times. So in other words, regardless of when parent number one chooses to take benefits, another parent could decide to take the benefits at the same time, perhaps most of the time at birth or might choose to take those benefits later on.

NS: So that’s where things like community services come into play. If there is no available infant child care, then you’ll want to take them after one another, but if there is availability of infant child care, then you may want to overlap your parental benefits and be off as a family. Okay. So when we’re talking about the standard benefit, parental benefit, there’s no change. So the big change here is the option to choose 33 percent of earnings for 61 weeks. So when we hear in the media that it’s been extended to 18 months, that’s where that comes from, right? We add 61 weeks, plus the maternity weeks, that gives us roughly 18 months.

AB: That’s right. So the difference from—35 to 61 seem like awkward numbers—but the difference is it’s actually 26 weeks, which is half the year or 6 months. Certainly, there are a variety of considerations that a family would want to take into account when deciding whether to take the standard or extended duration option and this now provides flexibility. We expect there are many families who would continue to take the 12-month option for standard benefits at a higher benefit rate.

NS: Okay. So let’s look at some of the conditions or limitations to the benefits. We have a question in the chat box that if somebody chooses 35 weeks at the beginning and then decides to extend to 61 weeks, can they do so?

AB: Okay. So that is a great question and right on cue. When applying, parents will need to choose either standard parental or extended parental benefits. There’s no default. So we will be asking them to make that selection when they first apply for EI benefits. Once they have received even a dollar of their parental benefits, they’re not able to switch. So they become locked in at that point.

The other thing is that parents need to be on the same option. So two parents need to either both be on the standard parental benefits option or both be on the extended parental benefits option.

Another thing I just want to speak to is transition. So considering that once the new measures come into force, some people will already be receiving parental benefits. If that’s the case, they will continue to receive standard parental benefits, which is what they’re effectively on right now.

NS: But if you’re on maternity leave now and they’re receiving maternity benefits, and they don’t start their parental benefits until after the effective date, then they can choose standard or extended.

AB: That’s right. So access for the extended option will occur once for a birth or an adoption that occurs after coming into force and, provided they have not yet started parental benefits, they have a choice even if they’ve already started maternity benefits.

NS: Okay, great. So parents have a lot to consider when they’re trying to decide between the standard or extended parental options. Obviously there are family implications—certainly careers. Some careers, even a year away from a career may have negative consequences and the 18 months may be impossible. Obviously the math is important, so some families may choose the extended benefits because they’re factoring in the high cost of infant care and the math works out that way. There may not be any child care available so they have no choice but to extend, or they may have a return to work implication based on their employer or the type of work that they’re doing. They may be able to phase back to work. If somebody were to phase back to work and be working say part-time while receiving benefits, what’s the impact on that family?

AB: Okay. So under the EI program, it is possible to combine work with EI benefits. In the case of somebody who is phasing back to work, there is a specific time period during which they may receive EI benefits. And if a parent is earning some income while they’re on parental benefits, then their EI benefits will be reduced essentially $0.50 on the dollar because, from the program perspective, there’s less need for income support if they’re earning income.

NS: Right. Okay. The other considerations that parents have to make are what are their workplace policies and programs, top-up, for example. Is the employer going to supplement the EI benefits? We’ll talk more about that later on in the call, but also what’s available in the community in terms of parenting programs or the like.

So why don’t we walk through a couple of specific scenarios to try to make this a little less complicated. So why don’t we start off with one parent standard benefits, one parent receiving everything.

AB: Okay. Let’s take a look at that scenario then. We’ve got a couple here, Martine and Ibrahim, who are expecting their second child, and they’ve decided that Martine will take all of the maternity parental benefits and she earns $60,000 per year. Now if she chooses the standard option, she’s eligible for up to 35 weeks of parental benefits that would be paid at the 55 percent replacement rate. The maternity benefits would also be paid at the 55 percent replacement rate and she’s receiving $543 per week because she is at the maximum based on her annual income. In total, over a 12-month period, she would be able to receive approximately $27,000.

NS: Okay. So fairly standard. This is what a typical parental maternity benefit has been for the last several years now. So let’s look at another scenario where we’re going to have two parents sharing the parental benefits.

AB: Just before we get to that scenario, Nora, why don’t we take a look at if Martine makes the choice to take extended parental.

NS: Yes. Okay.

AB: So with the other option, they would still see maternity benefits paid at 55 percent for 15 weeks, but if she takes the option for the extended duration of parental benefits, she’d have benefits over 61 weeks, a longer period, but paid at a lower replacement rate: so $326 per week. So that’s the main difference, receiving benefits over a longer period but at a lower rate. The total amount you’ll see is roughly $28,000, very comparable to what she would have received under the other scenario, because essentially the EI benefits are being pro-rated over the longer 18-month duration.

NS: Got it, okay. So now let’s look at scenario where two parents are going to share a standard benefit.

AB: Okay. So this time we’ve got Jessica and Jean expecting their first child and they’ve decided that they’ll share parental benefits, both of them are earning $60,000 per year. They’ve decided that Jessica will take 25 weeks of parental benefits and Jean will take 10 weeks of the total 35. So now we take a look at the math, similar to what we saw in the last example, Jessica would receive 15 weeks maternity, 25 parental for a total of $21,700 in EI maternity and parental benefits over about a 10-month period. Jean would be eligible to receive the 10 weeks in parental benefits for about $5,400 in total. The total amount that they receive being the same as if one person took all of the benefits because they are receiving—they have the same income.

NS: Okay, now let’s say that Jean is actually Gene and Jessica and Gene are in a same-sex relationship and one of them has given birth. There is no change in that.

AB: That’s correct.

NS: If neither one of them gives birth, then neither one of them is eligible for the maternity benefits, but they can continue to split the parental benefits in this example.

AB: That’s also correct.

NS: Okay. So let’s move on to the even more complicated two parents with extended benefits.

AB: Okay. So here what we see now is that with a longer duration, the 61 weeks of parental benefits, this does offer new opportunities in terms of sharing. For example, one parent might want to take a total of 12 months and another parent to take a total of 6 months. Let’s take a look at this scenario here. Jessica has decided to take 45 weeks of parental benefits and Jean will be taking 16 weeks of parental benefits. The total there again is 61. So, to see what they would receive then over that period of up to 18 months is that Jessica could receive here about $23,000 in EI benefits and Jean would receive about $5,000 in parental benefits.

NS: Okay. And like the previous example, if Jean is partnered with Jeff instead of Jessica, then neither one of them, because neither one of them can give birth, neither one can qualify for maternity benefit but they can continue in this scenario with the split any way they choose at 33 percent of earnings for a total of 61 weeks.

AB: That’s right. So now in that example of a same-sex male couple or an adoptive family, there’s access to up to 61 weeks at a lower benefit rate or the standard 35 weeks at the 55 percent benefit rate.

NS: Got it, okay. So why don’t we open the phone lines now. We’ve got lots of questions coming in. Why don’t we first look at the question of alignment with the Canada Labour Code. We are hearing a lot about the changes and how there’s also changes to the Canada Labour Code for those who are federally regulated. Can you just give us a quick overview on what’s happening with the Canada Labour Code?

AB: So I’ll speak to the Canada Labour Code first. So changes are being made to the Canada Labour Code to align with the changes that are being made to EI special benefits. The Canada Labour Code applies to workers in federally regulated enterprises and so it’s a relatively small portion of Canadian workers. It’s about 6 percent to 8 percent of workers across the country.

NS: So banking, transportation, telecommunication, telecom. Okay. And everybody else is either covered under a collective agreement or they are provincially regulated. So what that means is that some province standards state that they will provide job protection in alignment with the federal program of benefits and others will need to be modified or updated in order to align with the benefits program. Correct?

AB: That’s right. So for provinces and territories, they are responsible for their own employment standards. Currently, all of the provinces and territories are aligned to be current EI maternity benefits or at least provide protection that covers the period for EI maternity and parental benefits. With the change, it will be something that provinces and territories need to decide for themselves whether to align or not. In the past, we have seen provinces and territories make changes to align with federal changes. That said, it can take some time. There is one province that so far has announced that it will be making changes, and that’s in Ontario, where they introduced changes to their employment standards legislation to reflect the changes to this new parental benefits option.

NS: Right, and it gets more complicated with collective agreements because some of those won’t be renegotiated until the bargaining session begins and some of them may be included because they already have language that states that they’re going to be in alignment with whatever changes happen at the federal level. So you have to check your agreement and you have to check your labour standards.

 


Learn more about work, family and caregiving in Canada:

 


Originally published on November 7, 2017
Reposted on January 24, 2018