Mother’s Day 2019: New Moms Older, More Likely to Be Employed Than in the Past

May 12, 2019 is Mother’s Day, a time to recognize and celebrate the millions of women in Canada who are raising (and co-raising) future generations, often while managing multiple roles at home, in their workplaces and in their communities. The complex relationship between women, work and family across the country has evolved significantly across generations, as new moms are older and more likely to be employed than in the past – trends that are reflected in data recently released from Statistics Canada.

According to recent Vital Statistics data, women across the country are increasingly waiting longer to have children – in fact, the fertility rates of women in their early 20s and late 30s flipped over the past 20 years. Many are instead focusing first on pursuing post-secondary education and career development – continuing a long-term trend observed over the past several decades.

  • In 2017, the fertility rate in Canada for women aged 20 to 24 stood at 36 live births per 1,000 women, down from 58 per 1,000 in 2000.1
  • In 2017, the fertility rate in Canada for women aged 35 to 39 was 56 live births per 1,000 women, nearly double the rate in 2000 (34 per 1,000).2
  • In 2016, the average age of first-time mothers was 29.2 years, up from 27.1 years in 2000.3

Most of these new moms are (and remain) in the paid labour force at the time of birth or adoption of their newborn, often utilizing community supports to facilitate work and family responsibilities.

  • In 2016, the employment rate of mothers whose youngest child was aged 0 to 2 was 71%, up from 66% in 2001. As in previous years, this rate was higher in Quebec in 2016 (80%).4
  • In 2017, 79% of recent mothers across Canada had insurable employment, 90% of whom received maternity and/or parental benefits.5
    • As in previous years, recent moms in Quebec were more likely to have insurable employment (97%) and to have received benefits than their counterparts in the rest of Canada (91%).
  • In 2016–17, women accounted for 85% of all parental benefits claims made, down from 89% in 2002.6, 7

Since December 2017, new and expectant parents have been provided with more flexibility regarding the timing and duration of the benefit period.

  • New and expectant parents are now able to choose an extended parental benefits option, which allows them to receive their EI parental benefits over a period of up to 18 months at a benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings. Compared with the standard parental benefits option, this extends the duration of the benefit period but decreases the benefit rate, which stand at 12 months and 55% of average weekly earnings, respectively.8
  • Expectant mothers are also now able to access benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date – four weeks earlier than the previous eight-week limit (no additional weeks are available).9
  • In 2017, among recent mothers who had worked as an employee within the previous two years, more than 1 in 5 took or planned to take more than 12 months away from work (21%).10


Published on May 8, 2019


1 Statistics Canada, Crude Birth Rate, Age-specific Fertility Rates and Total Fertility Rate (Live Births) (Table 13-10-0418-01), page last updated May 2, 2019. Link:

2 Ibid.

3 Claudine Provencher et al., “Fertility: Overview, 2012 to 2016,” Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada, Statistics Canada catalogue no. 91-209-X (June 5, 2018). Link:

4 Martha Friendly et al., “Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada 2016,” Child Care Research and Research Unit (CRRU) (April 2018). Link:

5 Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2017,” The Daily (November 15, 2018). Link:

6 Employment and Social Development Canada, “New Five-Week Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit One Month Away,” News Release (February 18, 2019). Link:

7 Canada Employment Insurance Commission, Employment Insurance 2002 Monitoring and Assessment Report (March 31, 2003). Link:

8 Learn more in “Webinar Content: Changes to EI Special Benefits,” Transition (January 24, 2018). Link:

9 Ibid.

10 Statistics Canada, “Employment Insurance Coverage Survey, 2017.”

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