Mr. Speaker, as announced in budget 2017, the combined 12 months of maternity and parental leave refers to the combination of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits and the 35 weeks of EI parental benefits and corresponding leaves of 17 maternity weeks and 37 parental weeks, up to a total maximum of 52 weeks, under the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated sectors.
Once budget 2017 measures are implemented, the 18 months of parental leave will include the 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits and 61 weeks of extended parental benefits, and corresponding leaves of 17 maternity weeks and 63 parental weeks, up to a total maximum of 78 weeks of combined leave under the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated sectors.
The EI parental benefits and leaves are available to birth and adoptive parents, and can be shared by both parents at the same time or consecutively. Parents may choose between either the current standard parental benefits of up to 35 weeks with 37 weeks of leave under the Canada Labour Code, or the new extended parental benefit of up to 61 weeks with 63 weeks of leave under the Canada Labour Code.
A key distinction between EI maternity and parental benefits is that parental benefits can be shared by both parents and are available to biological and adoptive parents, while the maternity benefit is only available to the biological mother, including a birth mother who places her child for adoption. Adoptive parents are not eligible for EI maternity benefits.
The cost of the budget 2017 announcement regarding EI parental benefits is $152 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $27.5 million per year thereafter for birth and adoptive parents combined. Please consult the federal budget at www.budget.gc.ca/2017/home-accueil-en.html.
The budget 2017 estimated cost to extend parental leave to 18 months includes benefits for both birth and adoptive parents.