Accessing Benefits – Employees

  • Any individual who has worked for a period of 600 insured hours in 52 weeks prior to the birth/adoption of a child can apply for federal benefits.
  • A birth or surrogate mother may apply for Maternity Benefits for a maximum of 15 weeks and may apply for up to 8 weeks before she is due to give birth, or up to the week that she gives birth.
  • Parental Benefits can be claimed by either or both parents, birth or adoptive, not to exceed a total of 35 weeks.

Apply for benefits in person or online through Service Canada. Customer Service representatives can assist applicants at 1 800 206 7218. To apply, the following information is required:

  • Social Insurance Numbers (yours and your partner’s)
  • Personal identification, if applying in person (driver’s licence, passport or birth certificate)
  • Expected date of delivery/adoption for maternity benefits
  • Birth date or placement date for parental benefits
  • Details regarding most recent employment (hours worked, income, etc.)

Applicants must serve a two-week waiting period before receiving their first payment.

Find more information online about:
EI and maternity, parental and sickness benefits

  • Some people may not be aware they are able to work a certain amount while on parental leave without affecting their leave.
  • Some women may not be aware they can share the 35 weeks of parental leave with a partner.

Accessing benefits – Self-employed persons

Beginning in January 2011, self-employed Canadians will be able to access Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits such as maternity benefits and parental benefits.

You may be eligible to access EI special benefits beginning in January 2011:

  • if you are a self-employed person;
  • if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada; and
  • if you have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission through Service Canada.

If you are a self-employed Canadian, you will be able to enter into an agreement with the Commission through Service Canada starting on January 31, 2010.

If you entered into an agreement between January 31, 2010 and April 1, 2010, you will be able to make a claim for EI special benefits as early as January 2011. This is a special start-up measure. However, if you entered into an agreement with the Commission after April 1, 2010, you will have to wait 12 months from the date of your agreement before you will be able to make a claim for EI special benefits.

For more details, see Service Canada’s webpage on:
Employment Insurance Benefits for Self-Employed People