Maternity Benefits, Parental Leave and Bereavement Leave Legislation in Canada

Maternity benefits and paternal leave

Service Canada is the Government agency that manages maternity benefits and parental leave. You can only access these benefits if you have contributed to EI; if you are self-employed, accessing these benefits may not be possible. Sadly, when facing a pregnancy and infant loss, access to these benefits is very limited, even if you have contributed to EI.

Maternity benefits are only paid to the birthing person.  If the pregnancy is lost after the 20th week, maternity benefits are available for up to 15 weeks.

Parental leave benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents. Unfortunately they are not available at all if a pregnancy ends in miscarriage or termination.

In the case of stillbirth or an infant loss parents are no longer eligible for parental benefits as of the week following the loss. Remember that the birthing person is entitled to 15 weeks of maternity benefits so if the baby dies after those 15 weeks, the parental benefits will seize within a week. 

bereavement leave legislation in canada

Bereavement Leave varies across the provinces and territories from 1 to 5 days.  We have outlined below the information applicable to the loss of an immediate family member. 

  • Alberta and British Columbia have a  three-day unpaid bereavement leave.  Three days of unpaid leave are also available under Manitoba’s law, but the employee must have worked for at least 30 days with the same company.
  • Employees in Saskatchewan must work for 13 weeks before they can take five days of unpaid bereavement and they can only take the days within a week of the funeral date.
  • Yukon gives employees seven consecutive days of bereavement leave if the funeral falls within that week. In the Northwest Territories, if the funeral or memorial for a family member is local, the employee can take three days of unpaid bereavement leave. The Territory provides seven days if the service is outside of the community where the employee resides.
  • Quebec provides for one day of paid leave and four days without pay except for employees working in the clothing industry, except for retail, who can get three days of paid leave and two days of unpaid leave;
  • In Nova Scotia, employees can take five consecutive days of unpaid leave. In New Brunswick, employees can also have five consecutive days of unpaid leave, but the leave can begin no later than the funeral day.
  • In Prince Edward Island, an employee can take one day of paid leave and two days of unpaid leave
  • Employees in Newfoundland and Labrador receive two days of unpaid leave. If an employee has worked with an employer for 30 days, they get an additional day of paid leave.
  • Nunavut does not have a specific policy. 

Many employers are flexible and willing to accommodate leave beyond the legal minimum.  Discuss with your employer what other benefits such as sick leave or short-term disability may be accessible to you. 

We are here for you. Visit our website, www.pilsc.org, for support. 

Sources:

  • Current information available, March 2021
  • Porado, Martha. (2017) Benefits Canada.
  • Service Canada (2021) EI maternity and parental benefits

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Shelagh

Shelagh (she/her) brings with her a solid background as an admin in a variety of areas from business, academia and now with a charitable organization with the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support Center. She feels passionate about working in a role that benefits others in the community.

Shelagh was exposed to bereavement and deep grief at an early age and it left her with a profound sense of how fragile life is and how we need to find joy and light wherever we can. She feels privileged to be able to take this sense with her into her role with PILSC while putting her strong admin skills to good use.