Maternity Leave In Ontario: A Comprehensive Overview

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Maternity leave in Ontario is similar to other provinces (except Quebec) and territories since it’s administered by the federal government. What makes maternity and parental benefits in Canada appealing is that you can still earn an income for up to 18 months while staying home to take care of your child.

When you’re on maternity leave in Ontario or parental leave, you’re on Employment Insurance (commonly known as EI) which pays up to 55% of your earnings, to a maximum of $668 a week (As of January 1, 2024). While these benefits are taxable, many Canadians feel less stress as they’re not worried about returning to work after just a few months because they lack an income.

Knowing how maternity leave works in Canada is vital since not everyone qualifies for EI benefits and it isn’t automatically given as soon as you have a child. Keep reading to understand everything there is about maternity leave in Ontario.

Maternity leave in Ontario vs. Parental leave in Ontario

One thing that confuses new parents is that maternity leave is different from parental leave. That’s right, there are two types of leave. They’re similar, but there are a few minor differences that you need to be aware of as they’ll affect how much money you’ll get.

Maternity leave in Ontario 

Maternity leave benefits only apply to people who are away from work because they’re pregnant or have just given birth. This is for birth mothers. That means if you’re adopting or you’ve used a surrogate, neither parent would qualify for maternity leave benefits.

You can claim up to 15 weeks of standard benefits for maternity leave, but parents cannot share these benefits. Since parental leave can follow maternity leave, you can apply for both benefits at the same time.

Parental leave in Ontario 

Parental leave (sometimes mistakenly referred to as paternity leave) in Ontario applies to both parents of a newborn or newly adopted child. These benefits can be shared, but you must choose between standard parental benefits or extended parental benefits. When sharing, parents must submit their own application and select the same option.

You also have the choice to take parental leave at the same time as your partner or one after another. Keep in mind that once you start getting your parental benefits, you can’t change options.

Standard parental leave in Ontario gives you up to 40 weeks of benefits. However, no parent can exceed 35 weeks of benefits. Note that new rules introduced in 2019 allows you to take 5 weeks of standard parental leave without affecting your spouse’s maximum of 35 weeks which is why there’s a limit of 40 weeks total.

When it comes to extended parental leave in Ontario, parents get up to 69 weeks of benefits, but no parent can exceed 61 weeks of benefits.

Note that maternity and parental leave are part of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act. Your employer can’t deny you these benefits. 

Maternity Leave in Ontario eligibility

To qualify for maternity leave and parental leave benefits in Ontario, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You’re pregnant or have recently given birth when applying for maternity benefits
  • You’re a parent with a newborn or newly adopted child when applying for parental benefits
  • Your weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week
  • You have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim (whichever is shorter)

While the above criteria are straightforward, you can always speak to a Service Canada representative to find out if you’re eligible. Part-time and full-time employees would qualify for maternity leave benefits as long as they meet the above criteria.

Once you come back from maternity leave, you would need to regain enough insured hours of work to go off on leave again. Similar to before, there’s no qualifying period. You could come back for six months and then go off again assuming you’ve met the eligibility obligations. 

Pregnant employees that have a miscarriage or stillbirth more than 17 weeks before the baby’s due date do not qualify for pregnancy leave. However, if happens after that time frame, you’re still able to claim EI maternity benefits while you take time off.

Maternity Leave in Ontario for self-employed individuals

If you’re self-employed, you can still qualify for maternity leave in Ontario, but you need to register for access to EI special benefits for self-employed people. In addition, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 12 months must have passed since your confirmed registration
  • The time you spend on your business has decreased by more than 40% for at least one week because you’re pregnant, have recently given birth, or you’re caring for your newborn or newly adopted child
  • You meet the minimum earned income amount during the previous calendar year before you apply for benefits.

As long as you have a valid social insurance number, you may be eligible for maternity and parental benefits. This even applies to people who aren’t Canadian citizens.

Maternity leave pay in Ontario

As of January 1st, 2024, maternity leave pay in Ontario is 55% of your insurable earnings to a maximum salary. That works out to a total of up to $668 a week.

For those taking parental leave, there are two options that pay different sums. Standard parental benefits allow you to receive 55% of your insurable income for up to 40 weeks. Remember, no one parent can exceed 35 weeks of pregnancy leave pay in Ontario.

If you choose to take extended parental leave, your pay is 33% of your insurable income for up to 69 weeks. This gives you a weekly pay of up to $390. Again, no one parent can exceed 61 weeks of parental leave benefits.

The maximum amount of EI benefits you are entitled to is the same when it comes to standard and extended parental leave. It’s just paid out over 35 weeks or 61 weeks, depending on your choice.

That said, those who take standard parental benefits and return to work after 12 months where they can earn their full salary, often come out with more money than those who take the extended leave.

Some employers offer maternity or parental leave top-up, which can give you a nice boost to your income for a period of time. For example, your employer might top up your pay up to 80% of your income. That means they would give you an additional 25% of your pay on top of the 55% you’re getting from EI. Not every employer offers this, so check with yours to see what you’re entitled to.

Keep in mind that there is a one-week period where you won’t be paid which is referred to as the waiting period. The government likes to think of this as a deductible. Maternity and parental benefits are also fully taxable. How much you’ll pay depends on your household income, but for most people, it’ll be lower than their usual tax rate.

What you do with your benefits is up to you. Most people use it for regular bills and expenses, but there’s nothing stopping you from investing it in your high interest savings accountRRSPTFSA, or RESP. Some people even use the money to pay off their debt.

How to apply for maternity leave in Ontario

As soon as you stop working, you’ll want to apply for maternity leave in Ontario. Do not delay your application! If it takes you more than 4 weeks after your last day of work to apply, you could lose some of your benefits.

The actual process of applying for maternity leave is easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Choose your benefits
  • Complete the online application
  • Provide the required information
  • Wait for your benefit statement and access code to arrive by mail
  • Review your application

If your application is approved, you’ll get your first payment about four weeks after you applied. If your banking information is set up with your CRA account, then the money you’re entitled to will be directly deposited into your account. If not, you’ll get a physical cheque in the mail.

Unlike regular EI, you can still receive maternity and parental benefits while outside Canada. To find out when your EI payments end, check your My Service Canada Account.

Additional things to be aware of when going on maternity leave

Some of your employment benefits may include maternity leave top-up. That’s where your employer may pay the difference between what you get from EI and your regular wages. Since this is free money, it’s in the best interest of couples to take advantage of anything that’s offered.

While you’re out on your weeks of maternity leave, your regular benefits such as dental plans and contributions to pension plans won’t apply. However, some companies will let you buy into those perks when you’re off, which is likely worth it. Some employers may also offer unpaid time off if you need longer leave. Unpaid leave is not mandatory, so it’s up to the employer to decide.

Another expense you’ll want to factor in is life insurance. Now that you have a dependent, getting life insurance is the smart thing to do since it’ll protect your loved ones in case you were to suddenly pass. Term life insurance is relatively inexpensive, so it’s worth getting.

Final thoughts

The cost of raising a child in Canada is not cheap. Fortunately, there are government programs that provide financial assistance to people who qualify. Maternity and parental benefits will help, but be sure to get a hold of your finances as you’ll likely be spending a small fortune on your child for the next 20 years.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Ashley on September 24, 2020 at 12:19 PM

    Hey Barry! Question. If a mom decided to take 18 months maternity (extended) mat leave/ei paid only for 12 months? or paid up to the 18 month?

    • Barry Choi on September 24, 2020 at 12:24 PM


      You get 12 months of pay stretched out to 18months.

      • Nayan on April 19, 2022 at 12:55 PM

        Hi Barry,
        My wife left Job in January month when she got news of pregnancy ( within 1st month).
        But we have not specified reason of pregnancy when she left job.
        Her due date is 20 sept 2022.
        So In last one year period from this date she completed 500 insurable hrs. So if she applicable to get maternity benefit ?

  2. Nadine on January 4, 2021 at 12:52 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I am confused about the parental and maternity leave.

    How do you get the full 18 months off? Do you apply for the mat leave first, followed by parental? I am planning on working right up until a week before my due date.

    • Barry Choi on January 4, 2021 at 5:21 PM

      Hi Nadine,

      It’s technically done at the same time when you apply for EI. Maternity happens first which is followed by parental leave. If I recall correctly, you just need to designated which parent is off. You can change it later but I’m fairly positive that if you choose 12 months, you can’t go to 18 later.

  3. Candace on February 8, 2022 at 4:38 PM

    Will I qualify for maternity leave if I am currently/recently unemployed but did work at least 600 insured hours in the last 12 months before my due date?

    • Barry Choi on February 9, 2022 at 6:24 AM


      You should qualify still.

    • Caroline on March 8, 2022 at 11:09 AM

      Hello Barry!
      When is the earliest I can start my maternity leave and apply for maternity benefits? 17 weeks before due date?

      • Barry Choi on March 8, 2022 at 11:11 AM

        Hi Caroline.

        See here –

        Applying for EI maternity benefits
        You can apply for EI maternity benefits before you give birth. In fact, you can start receiving benefits as early as 12 weeks before your due date or before the actual week you give birth.

        You cannot receive EI maternity benefits more than 17 weeks after the week you were expected to give birth or the week you actually gave birth, whichever is later. When the actual date of birth is different from the expected date of birth, you must let us know the child’s actual date of birth as soon as possible by calling 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742) or by visiting a Service Canada Centre.

  4. Amanda on February 23, 2022 at 11:53 AM

    Hi Barry,

    I am in sales and make a base + commission how does this work for applying for maternity leave will the pay be based on my total income or just my base?

    • Barry Choi on February 23, 2022 at 12:52 PM


      It should be based on your total compensation (assuming you include your commission when filing your taxes).

  5. Yohannes Beyene on February 25, 2022 at 12:17 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My wife stopped working on December 10, 2021 due to health reason that resulted in a high risk pregnancy. Her family doctor advised (medical certificate) her to take a bed rest (unable to work) for the rest of her pregnancy time.

    Since we have been stressed out with her senior pregnancy for more than a month from that day and decided finally to apply for sickness Benefit and applied on February 8, 2022.

    She has more than 420 insurance hours. So, is it possible to request for a back sate approval from December 10, 21 and forwards to get her sickness benefits which then followed by maternity and parental benefits?

  6. Caroline on March 3, 2022 at 10:18 PM

    Hello Barry ! I’m self employee,I need to apply for a special EI,but I would need to know if my application for maternity leave benefit would be accepted as I’m expecting to have a baby in May 2022,
    Thank you

  7. Kristen on March 28, 2022 at 5:10 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I will be going on maternity leave in July 2022.
    My husband works in a trade and will be laid off from his job to go on EI. Does he get regular EI since he is laid off? Or does his EI still count as “parental leave” and come out of our 40 week allowance?

    Thank you!

    • Barry Choi on March 28, 2022 at 7:33 PM


      It would make more sense for your husband to just claim regular EI and you claim all the maternity benefits so you don’t lose out on anything.

  8. Sparkles on March 31, 2022 at 8:49 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Thank you for this article. If I choose to take a shorter maternity/parental leave, for example 6 or 9 months instead of the standard 12 months, do I get a higher EI pay per week?

    • Barry Choi on April 1, 2022 at 7:24 AM


      No, EI caps at the weekly limit regardless of how long you take off.

  9. KM on April 6, 2022 at 4:35 PM

    Hi Barry,

    From what I am seeing, maternity leave in Ontario is 17 weeks? Do you only receive the benefit for 15?

    Also, if sharing parental leave with my husband and going for the “Standard” parental leave, would the following be correct?

    Pregnancy/Maternity leave – 15 (or 17 weeks)
    Parental Leave – 5 weeks (as mom)
    Parental Leave – 35 weeks (as dad)

    For a total of 57 weeks? That equates to 14.5 months not 12, so I feel like I am adding something up incorrectly lol.


    • Barry Choi on April 6, 2022 at 7:13 PM


      You get up to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave in Ontario which is unpaid time off.

      MAternity leave is 15 weeks which qualifies for EI.
      Standard Parental leave is up to 40 weeks as long as one partner doesn’t exceed 35 weeks.

      Here’s a quick explainer:

      As for your original math, there are 52 weeks in a year. Looks like you were assuming 4 weeks a month.

      • KM on April 6, 2022 at 7:53 PM

        I definitely was lol! Thank you for the information!

  10. Yu on April 11, 2022 at 1:23 AM

    Hi Barry,
    My wife is pregnant but is not employed, so she would not be able to get mat leave or parental leave. I work full time, would I still be able to apply for Parental leave in this situation?

    • Barry Choi on April 11, 2022 at 6:13 AM

      Hi Yu,

      Yes, you would still qualify for paternity leave.

  11. Sarah on April 25, 2022 at 5:22 PM

    Hi there,

    I’m on long term disability, but have only been on it four months. Before this, I had a medical leave EI claim, so I don’t have my work hours to qualify for parental leave when I give birth in November. Can I take an unpaid (no EI) parental leave from my job so that I can be home with my baby for a year, and then go back to work, get my requisite hours in, and then apply for an EI paid parental leave for the same birth?

  12. Kasia on May 9, 2022 at 7:51 PM

    Hi Barry,

    Is it possible to take the 12 month EI payments but take the full 18 months from my employer and work a part-time job for the additional 6 months? I’m assuming this wouldnt impact my EI payments as long as I wasn’t making income during the 12 months of my EI payments?

    • Barry Choi on May 9, 2022 at 7:56 PM


      No, that’s not possible.

      • Charlotte on July 11, 2022 at 3:26 PM

        Hi Barry,
        Similar question to Kasia, is it possible to take the standard 12 month EI benefits from service Canada but take 18 months of maternity leave with my employer, having the last 6 months as essentially unpaid? As in, I get the full amount within 12 months but then eek it out myself over the 18 months. This way, I can have the option of returning to work sooner with my employer, if I choose to do so? As far as my employer is concerned, I would just have to give 2 weeks notice if I want to return sooner than anticipated.

        • Barry Choi on July 11, 2022 at 5:15 PM

          Hi Charlotte,

          You’d have to ask your employer if it’s possible to get 6 months unpaid leave after your 12 months of parental leave. With parental leave, you have to choose 12 or 18 months, there’s no real wiggle room.

          • Jenna on May 14, 2023 at 8:14 PM

            I thought the Ontario ESA says that we are job protected up to 61 weeks. Why would choosing the 12 months of EI affect that? I am the same I want the 12 months EI but want to return to work after 14 months. You are saying we don’t have job protection or option to return to work past 12 months just because we didn’t choose that EI option?

  13. Simone on May 16, 2022 at 12:43 PM

    Hi Barry,
    Am I eligible to get maternity/parental
    If I still receive previously earned commissions from my job? Ie am I eligible for Maternity ei
    If I still have other income?

  14. Stephanie on May 22, 2022 at 9:54 PM

    Hi Barry I am on maternity leave for 12 months. My daughter is almost 10 months old and I want to extend my leave to 18 months. I’m told that I will be unpaid for those extra 6 months. If that is so, am I able to work a part time job without getting my wages garnished?

    • Barry Choi on May 23, 2022 at 6:30 AM


      Since you won’t be on EI anymore, there’s no clawback. You’d just be earning regular income.

  15. Rebecca on May 24, 2022 at 4:05 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I am due to give birth in September 2022. I have been unable to work since March due to the physical nature of my job and issues with the pregnancy. I was previously on medical leave until January of 2022, and do not have the hours to qualify for maternity leave.
    Am I still eligible for unpaid pregnancy leave (up to 17 weeks prior to due date) and then unpaid parental leave (once the baby is born)?
    I am not concerned about compensation but, would like to ensure my job and benefits are secure, as I have high prescription drug costs and losing my benefits would be a severe financial hardship.

    • Barry Choi on May 24, 2022 at 7:59 PM


      From what I understand, authorized sick leave should not affect your maternity/parental benefits. YOu should call Service Canada to confirm.

      As for unpaid time off, you’d have to ask your employer if they can provide that to you. That said, many employers would require you to continue to pay into the drug plan if you’re off to continue to receive benefits. You may have to speak to your HR department about your situation.

  16. Rhea on June 6, 2022 at 9:49 AM

    Hi Barry.

    I’m due for June 15th and currently employed on Contract basis in Ontario. Is it possible I can go for parental leave after September once my contract ends or is there a time frame after delivery as to take the parental leave?

    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2022 at 5:27 PM


      I believe you can, but you’d have to contact Service Canada to confirm.

  17. Erica on June 16, 2022 at 6:06 PM


    It says that you can take maternity leave as early as up to 15 weeks. If I am due august 25 and planning to work till august 15. I am eligible for both maternity and parental leave. Will the parental leave kick in as soon as I deliver or I can max out the 15 weeks of maternity leave before the parental leave kicks in?


    • Barry Choi on June 16, 2022 at 6:33 PM


      You get all your weeks of maternity and parental regardless of when you started maternity and when your child is born.

      • Erica Tarnate on June 16, 2022 at 6:38 PM

        Thank you! One more thing. My husband wants to take a a month or 2 off after my 12 months of leave. Is that possible? Do we need to apply for that?

        • Barry Choi on June 16, 2022 at 7:46 PM


          You can split parental leave, so your husband wouldn’t be able to take two months off if you took the entire 12 months. The only exception is if you took extended leave where you split 18 months.

      • Bennie on June 17, 2022 at 6:43 PM

        Hi Barry,

        Can I attend full time online classes for college at the same time that I would be receiving my parental leave benefits? And do single parents qualify for a higher amount of ei benefits?

        • Barry Choi on June 19, 2022 at 8:30 PM

          Hi Bennie,

          Yes, you can attend school while on parental leave. You do not get any additional benefits as a single parent.

  18. Erica on June 17, 2022 at 1:08 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I just want to understand the leave is 18months in total with guarantee your job ?
    I am confused? I only knows then leave is for one year and half? Is it about payment or my securely job too?

    • Barry Choi on June 17, 2022 at 2:13 PM


      You get up to 12 months off if you can standard maternity / parental leave. If you choose extended parental leave, you get up to 18 months off. In both cases, there’s a maximum amount of $ from EI that you can receive. You don’t get more by choosing one over the other.

      Tehnically speaking, your employer needs to guarantee you a job when you return from your leave. That said, if your old position has been eliminated, your employer could offer you a similar job if available.

  19. Sean on June 21, 2022 at 9:15 PM

    Hi Barry,
    My wife is starting Maternity leave 2 weeks before her due date, can I start receiving parental benefits the day my baby is born?
    I’m pretty much asking can we both receive EI at the same time, her maternity and I parental?

    • Barry Choi on June 22, 2022 at 6:14 AM

      Hi Sean,

      I believe it’s possible, but once you start parental leave benefits, you can’t stop them. That would limit how much time your wife can take after her maternity leave benefits end.

      • Vanessa on June 24, 2022 at 8:19 PM

        Hi Barry,

        I am going on mat leave soon and plan to take maternity and extended parental leave. I’d like my husband to be off for the first 4 weeks once the baby is born. Is this possible without interfering with my extended parental leave allotment?

        • Barry Choi on June 24, 2022 at 8:23 PM


          In theory, parental leave can be taken at the same time, however, once it starts, it can’t be stopped. That means it would cut into the parental time you get after your maternity leave ends.

  20. Chantelle on June 29, 2022 at 5:02 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for providing this article, it was very informative! I do have a question as this is my first time applying for maternity leave.

    I intended to take a 1 year leave from work and I am due the end of August. My husband would also like to take about 5-6 weeks off once the baby is born.

    What plan should we apply for and will his 5-6 weeks off interfere (as in take from/decrease) the amount of money I would be receiving for my 1 year leave?

    I would really appreciate your insight, thank you in advance!

    • Barry Choi on June 29, 2022 at 6:26 AM

      Hey Chantelle,

      So the maternity leave is all yours, but you have the option to split parental leave. If he takes 5-6 weeks off, it would cut into your parental leave.

      The only thing he could do so it doesn’t cut into your time is to take vacation time or unpaid time off (if his employer allows it).

      • Chantelle on June 29, 2022 at 10:31 AM

        Hi Barry,

        Thank you so much for the reply!!

        So to confirm;
        – I can take the maternity leave which is 15 weeks
        – My husband and I can both take the standard parental leave which is 40 weeks
        – According to the article, he can take 5 weeks standard parental leave which won’t interfere with my 35 weeks standard parental leave
        – However, with him taking parental leave this will cut into the $638 a week.

        Does this mean for the 5 weeks he is on leave we would split the $638 in half? And once he is back to work I would go back to receiving the full amount?

        Sorry for the multiple questions, just want to ensure I have the correct information.

        Thanks again!

        • Barry Choi on June 29, 2022 at 1:02 PM


          So for parental leave, you and your husband get up to 40 weeks combined. However, one parent can’t take more than 35 weeks. So you can take 35, and your husband can take 5. The weeks can be taken at the same time. If that happens, you’d both be on EI and getting the $638 a week maximum. Being off at the same time does not reduce how much you get paid.

  21. Bhavesha Mistry-Persaud on June 29, 2022 at 12:45 PM

    A little confused when reading the ontario website critera.

    I’m due November 5th and have banked two week vacation which i plan on taking close to the end. I would be taking 12 months off on mat leave would i be receiving 55% of my insured income for the 12 months or 33% or is it 55% up to 35 weeks then after that 33% ?

    If i’m taking 12 months is that standard or extended materinty leave?

    • Barry Choi on June 29, 2022 at 1:03 PM


      55% applies to standard maternity/parental which is 12 months. If you take the extended parental leave, it drops to 33%.

  22. Koos on June 29, 2022 at 2:01 PM

    Hi Barry, If my wife take 12 months and I want to take 6 weeks. What will the %’s be that we would be eligible for each? We would like to take it at the same time.

    • Barry Choi on June 29, 2022 at 2:26 PM


      You and your wife can share up to 40 weeks of parental leave, but one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits. EI has a weekly cap of $638. You can take the leave at the same time, but note that once parental leave starts, it can’t be stopped.

  23. ramandeep on June 29, 2022 at 8:34 PM

    hi, my wife working and she is pregnant, she has already availed the 7 weeks sick leave during pregnancy. Now we want to apply for rest of sick leave (8 weeks) plus mat leave and parental leave all together. can we that? they say that we need 480 hours from last claim but didn’t mentioned what type of claim. could you please help me?

    • Barry Choi on June 29, 2022 at 8:42 PM


      Sick leave would need to be approved by your wife’s employer. She would need the recommendation of sick leave from her healthcare provider. Alternatively, she could apply for Maternity leave early. It is possible to apply for maternity leave and parental leave at the same time. The 480 hours from your last claim refers to the last time the person making the claim was on EI.

  24. Chelsea on July 19, 2022 at 8:08 PM

    For back to back maternity/parental leaves, how many insured hours are needed to qualify for the second leave? I understand this changed due to covid and am now unsure if it is 600 or less. Also- Do paid vacation days count in the hours?

  25. Trey on July 25, 2022 at 1:01 AM

    Hi Barry,

    My wife is due in two weeks and is starting her maternity leave this week.

    If she gets the full 15 weeks paid for maternity leave and full 35 weeks of paternity leave. That only adds up to 50 weeks. Does that mean she will be unpaid for 2 weeks?

    If so could she go back to work 2 weeks early?


    • Barry Choi on July 25, 2022 at 6:42 AM


      Each couple can take up to 40 weeks of parental leave, but it tops out at 35 weeks per person. So your wife could take 35 and you can take 5.

      If it’s only her taking the leave, she can go back early as long as she gives at leat 4 weeks written notice to her employer.

  26. ayan on July 25, 2022 at 6:10 PM

    am in maternity leave now but I get pregnant again so I’m going to get maternity leave again because my maternity leave will end October 2022 and that time am six months pregnant.

    • Barry Choi on July 25, 2022 at 7:59 PM


      If you accumulate the required 600 hours between your two maternity leaves, you would qualify again.

  27. ayan on July 25, 2022 at 8:21 PM

    I did before but now I get pregnant when am in my maternity leave so am I get again maternity leave without going back to work.

    • Barry Choi on July 25, 2022 at 8:49 PM


      Since you haven’t gone back to work, you won’t have enough hours for EI. You would still get parental leave, you just won’t qualify for EI benefits.

  28. Ayan on July 26, 2022 at 10:13 AM

    What happens if you get pregnant while on maternity?
    You can go on maternity leave again if you get pregnant while you’re already on maternity leave. You don’t need to go back to work between your pregnancies. You’ll need to check whether you can get maternity pay a second time, but apart from that you have the same rights as during your first pregnancy. Why they wrote this in the website. It is true or not.

  29. Wei on July 28, 2022 at 9:56 PM

    Hi Barry,
    I have two questions regarding maternity leave and parental leave, please:
    1. My due date is November 25, 2022. I resigned my first job after I found second job in June. I plan to take maternity leave at the end of October. I was on sick leave for three months in my first job. How they calculate my hours to quality for EI please? Will they add the hours up for two different employers? Or only the hours I worked for current employers?
    2. Is my husband qualified for parental EI? He is self-employed, but he hasn’t working since pandemic started? I planed to take 18months maternity leave, I will take the maximum weeks of extended parental leave, and he will take the rest weeks. Is he qualified for this?
    Thank you so much for answering

    • Barry Choi on July 29, 2022 at 6:11 AM


      As long as you’ve accumulated enough EI hours in the last year or the last time you were on EI, you would qualify. Changing jobs would not affect that.

      Your husband would only qualify for EI if he’s registered in the self-employed program –

      However, since he hasn’t been working, it’s unlikely he’d qualify.

  30. Dianne on August 2, 2022 at 4:20 PM

    I want to take the full maternity leave and parental leave and for my husband to use the additional 8 weeks. Can I take the full 15+61 weeks and my husband take the additional 8 weeks once I finish my time off? Ie. I am off for 76 weeks and then my husband is off for 8 weeks? Or does the 8 weeks have to fall within the 76 weeks?
    Thank you

    • Barry Choi on August 2, 2022 at 6:19 PM

      Hey Dianne,

      Your husband can take it after your 76 weeks.

      • Dianne on August 2, 2022 at 7:32 PM

        We’re being told by his work that the 8 weeks must be taken concurrent to my time off, ie. during the 18 months.

        • Barry Choi on August 2, 2022 at 10:28 PM


          You’d have to check with Service Canada.

  31. Nisha on August 22, 2022 at 2:56 AM

    Hi Barry,

    Me and my husband just moved to Canada on work permit. I have started my job from 15th August and already have SIN number. I am Pregnant and have a due date of 10th November. Would I be able to take the maternity leaves or parental leaves if I go on leaves and come back later and complete the required hours or if I take my annual leaves right after the delivery to complete the required hours. My husband will continue to work so would he be able to pass on the paid paternity leaves to me.Also the 600 hours criteria- would it apply to anyone who applies for EI after September or is there any other way. Would need your help to understand if there is any way we can get EI benefit. We have various commitments and loosing full salary of one of us would lead to a very challenging time (wasn’t aware about this rule before we came in)

  32. Joey on September 1, 2022 at 10:22 AM

    Hey Barry, thanks for the article!

    I’d like to get some advice for my wife and I, we’re hearing different things from Service Canada, our friends, etc.

    My wife is on her mat leave, we had the baby in July, and she was working full-time for her employer. In addition to that full-time job, she also started her own business as a side-gig. She’d like to go back to doing her side-job, but doesn’t want to miss out on her EI payments dollar-for-dollar, as it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    Are there workarounds to where she could make some money on top of her EI in a legal/ethical way? Thinking maybe she gives herself a big, saved up bonus in 2023 when she comes off her leave, or gives herself a raise next year, invest in items for the business, etc?

    Any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated!

    • Barry Choi on September 1, 2022 at 10:29 AM

      Hey Joey,

      No legal loophole for your wife’s situation. If she’s earning an income while on maternity leave, her EI benefits would be reduced accordingly.

      If she was incorporated, she could defer payments to herself. But that would only be worth it if she’s already incorporated.

      The workaround that you’re suggesting is what some people do. However, doing so would risk an audit from the CRA. I have no doubt people do that, but it’s tax evasion.

      • Joey on September 1, 2022 at 10:53 AM

        Makes sense, and confirms my suspicions. Thanks for the quick reply!

      • Julie Wilson on September 8, 2022 at 10:13 PM

        Hi Barry,

        I am currently into my sixth month of maternity leave ( I opted for 12 months)
        I am supposed to be going back to work in mid February 2023. We found out I’m pregnant with my second baby – due sometime mid April.
        This timeframe is obviously tight to put in the 600 hours required to apply for an additional maternity claim.

        I’m running through some scenarios, but had some questions about each.

        1. If I go back to work around 8/9 months of this current mat leave – do I bank those months? would this allow for less hours to be worked (from the 600 hrs required) to qualify for next mat leave claim?

        2. If I got a part time job, I am aware that my current benefit $$ value would be deducted accordingly (which is totally fine) however, wondering if you can confirm if these part time hours will be banked into my 600 hours worked? I’m thinking maybe not because I’m still technically on a claim??

        Hoping you can assist – thank you!

        • Barry Choi on September 9, 2022 at 6:00 AM


          You can’t bank maternity leave. Heading back to work early to build up your insurable hours would likely be the easiest thing to do to qualify for EI again.

          In theory part-time hours should count since your employer can prove you worked those hours.

          Honestly, contact Service Canada for an exact answer.

  33. Amanda on October 5, 2022 at 2:00 PM

    Hi Barry,

    What a fantastic resource this is! Thank you for all your answers.

    I work full time and will be able to claim maternity leave in Ontario. However, I also work on the side as a consultant. Currently, the business is not incorporated (so it’s tied to me personally), but if it was incorporated, would I be able to continue to do my work as a consultant while claiming maternity leave? Note, I am not actually pregnant, but am considering this well in advance and currently deciding whether or not to incorporate, so I have time.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Barry Choi on October 5, 2022 at 2:06 PM

      Hi Amanda,

      Being incorporated is irrelevant. You’d be earning an income so you would have to report it on your EI claims. That would result in a reduction of your EI benefits.

  34. Ronald on October 25, 2022 at 1:57 PM

    Hey Barry,

    – pregnant woman without PR (just on working holiday visa) still have a entitlement to allowance?
    – what about if She has 600 hours but as a part time job at two employees (on both paystubs are EI listed)
    – She works at bar (tips are not included in her paystub) how will be the maternity pay counted?

    Thanks Barry

    • Barry Choi on October 25, 2022 at 2:35 PM


      Those on a working visa should still qualify for EI benefits. As long as you’ve earned enough qualifying hours, you should still receive EI. The payments are based on your taxable income. If the tips were reported on her taxes, then she would likely be entitled to a percentage when filing for E.I. However, if tips were not reported at all, then that’s technically tax fraud, so she shouldn’t expect any extra income from EI based on those tips.

  35. Chantelle on November 12, 2022 at 8:42 AM

    I am trying to figure out how much I can expect to be deposit in my bank account per week/ bi-weekly. I see the amount for a standard leave is $638/ week. Will I be receiving this full amount or what deductions are taken for the net amount into my bank account? If it’s only myself taking the leave does my husbands income matter in regards to the net amount I receive?

    • Barry Choi on November 12, 2022 at 8:49 AM


      You’re taxed at the source for EI. The amount of tax you’ll pay depends on the province you live in, but in theory, it should be at your marginal tax rate (whatever your expected pre tax EI payments would be). That said, sometimes you’re taxed less on your EI payments. That means you might owe some money when you eventually file your tax return.

      Your husband’s income won’t affect your payments, but your income may affect his tax burden.

      • Chantelle on November 12, 2022 at 9:12 AM

        Thanks for the prompt reply, so if I live in Ontario and I am eligible for the full benefit amount ($638/ week) I would be taxed on that amount annualized (638x 52= $33,176) or just over the 40 weeks?

        • Barry Choi on November 12, 2022 at 9:51 AM


          The way I read it is like this. The government will assume that you’re just making $33,176 for the year and tax you at your marginal tax rate based on that amount. However, if you return to work within that tax year, you’d end up making more money, so the tax withheld from your EI payments would be too low, so you may end up owing some taxes.

  36. Winnie on December 1, 2022 at 9:28 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I am on 12month maternity+ parental leave. I have now changed my mind and want to extend to the 18month parental leave. I understand benefits will not be extended but do i need any approval from Service Canada? Or simply notify my employer that I would like to extend 6 more months unpaid? Does my employer have the right to refuse me taking additional 6months?

    • Barry Choi on December 2, 2022 at 8:18 AM

      Hey Winnie,

      You just need to inform your employer as you’re legally entitled to take up to 18 months off.

  37. Mikayla on December 5, 2022 at 10:58 AM

    Hi Barry,

    For the 5 or 8 weeks a spouse is eligible to take at the same time or additionally to the person taking the full parental leave, can these weeks be split? For example 1 – 2 weeks at a time? Or does it have to be taken 5 or 8 weeks consecutively?

    • Barry Choi on December 5, 2022 at 5:20 PM

      Hey Mikayla,

      I believe you can split the weeks up, but I’m not sure.

  38. Lindsay on December 5, 2022 at 4:59 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I took 18 month Mat leave but we are in need of money. If I go back now ( 4 months left of mat leave), will I get paid a lump sum of EI for the 4 months of mat leave I am not taking?

    • Barry Choi on December 5, 2022 at 5:21 PM


      No, you wouldn’t not get a lump sum payout if you go back early.

  39. Anna on February 8, 2023 at 10:58 PM

    I hope I can still get an answer. If my husband and I decided to take extended parental leave at the same time, can I take the 12months and my husband takes 6 months at the same time?

  40. Maris on February 9, 2023 at 11:37 AM

    Do you know if the reduced hour requirements due to COVID-19 are still in effect?

    • Barry Choi on February 9, 2023 at 11:40 AM


      The reduced hours requirement has ended.

  41. Charu lata on February 20, 2023 at 7:41 PM

    I’m currently employed in Hamilton for last four months, but I don’t have a full-time status. I’m a permanent resident also.
    Am I eligible for child benifits?

    • Barry Choi on February 20, 2023 at 8:27 PM


      As long as you’ve worked enough insurable hours, you’re good. Full-time status does not matter.

  42. SM on February 22, 2023 at 8:24 PM


    If we took maternity pay for 12 months for myself as the mother, would my husband still be able to take the first month as paternal leave at the same time? Also if we decided to get pregnant again and only work 3-4 months would I qualify for another maternity pay leave?

    • Barry Choi on February 23, 2023 at 6:42 AM


      You and your husband can take leave at the same time. It just cuts into the overall benefits. As for your second question. As long as you earn enough insurable hours in those 3-4 months, you would qualify for EI again.

  43. Katie on March 27, 2023 at 9:34 PM


    I am currently on extended parental leave due to go back to work May 23 (off since December 2021). I am currently pregnant and am due June 4. My work has informed me I need to use up my accumulated vacation days before returning to work which will bring me to June 14 return date, and then continue time off as unpaid leave for recovery after birth. I am planning on returning to work full time and my husband will be taking the paid time off this time with the baby, however, he is not sure if he wants to take the full 12 months.

    1. If I accumulate the 600 hours once I return to work and he decides to return to work early, will I qualify to take the remainder of the leave?

    2. If so, will we have to disclose this on the initial application or can we make changes throughout the 12 months?


    • Barry Choi on March 29, 2023 at 2:00 PM


      No, you would not qualify. You need to earn your insurable hours before you go on E.I. The best way to do this is to return early to get your hours and then go on mat leave again. However, with your due date coming up so soon, you won’t earn enough hours in time.

  44. Niki on March 31, 2023 at 12:50 PM

    Hi Barry. I am self employed and will not be using any maternity leave (will just take an h paid leave).
    My husband works full time. Would he be eligible for all the parental leave (since I’m not taking any) or just 5 weeks paternal?
    Thank you!

    • Niki on March 31, 2023 at 12:51 PM

      I will take Unpaid leave ***

      • Barry Choi on March 31, 2023 at 1:15 PM


        As long as he’s put in the qualifying hours, he would be eligible for parental leave

        • Niki on March 31, 2023 at 1:17 PM

          Fantastic! Thank you

  45. Breeanne on May 11, 2023 at 3:59 PM

    Hi Barry,

    I have 3 specific questions:
    1. If I’m employed by a Quebec based company, but I live in Ontario and work from home remotely, must I still make contributions to Quebec’s Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)?
    2. Is there an Ontario equivalent to QPIP regarding parental leave, or am I completely out of luck with this new employment in the event that I decide to have another child, or adopt a child, or lose a child, and need to take a parental leave?
    3. What other recourses/benefits do I have pertaining to this issue as a remote worker in Ontario?

    Thank you.

    • Barry Choi on May 11, 2023 at 4:37 PM

      Hey Breeanne,

      In theory, you would fall under Ontario’s rules since that’s where you file your taxes. That said, this goes beyond my expertise so you’d likely want to contact the government for clarification.

  46. Jenna on May 14, 2023 at 8:18 PM

    Hi Barry,
    Wanted to comment again incase you don’t see my other one. I want to take 12 months EI maternity/parental leave. But I am taking 2 months off before due date and don’t want to return to work when the baby is only 10 months old. Therefore, can I return to work after a total of 14 months (which is 12 months after due date). Or does the fact that I choose 12 month EI force me to go back to work after the 12 months?

    • Barry Choi on May 15, 2023 at 6:37 AM


      I’m not an employment lawyer, but the way I understand it is that the ESA protects your job just for the mat leave duration. SO in the case of 1 weeks, that applies only to those who taxed extended maternity. You could technically go back to work after 14 months, but you’d have to see if your employer will give you 2 months of unpaid leave (or you use vacation time). When you return, nothing would be guaranteed since your mat leave would leave would have technically ended at 12 months.

      • Jenna on May 28, 2023 at 3:14 PM

        Hi Barry,
        I discussed with my employment lawyer and she also suggested to call Ministry of Ontario to confirm. I called them and they say that the Canada EI coverage for payments for maternity leave is completely independent from the Ontario laws of job protection of up to 18 months. They even said that someone who doesn’t qualify for the EI payments or decides not to apply for the EI money (decides not to for whatever reason) still is covered by Ontario ESA job protection. Therefore, even if I choose 12 month EI payments I am still entitled to my job back, up until 18 months after due date. My lawyer had also indicated this after reviewing the laws but said it was also good to hear direct from the ministry too.

  47. Moon on July 23, 2023 at 2:53 PM


    Is it possible to take a back to back to back pregnancy without losing your job protection. I know you won’t qualify for ei unless you worked the hours again but is your employer still obligated to hold your position as per the esa. Basically what I’m asking is is their a limit to how many maternity leaves you can take in a row without going back to work between pregnancies?

    Thank you!

    • Barry Choi on July 23, 2023 at 3:21 PM

      Hi Moon,

      If you haven’t earned enough insurable hours, you wouldn’t be able to take a second maternity leave. You could ask for unpaid time off, but your employer is under no obligation to grant you that request. Some people will return to work early just to earn enough hours for their second leave.

      • Moon on July 23, 2023 at 3:36 PM

        Hello Barry,

        I know I’m not entitled to EI without the insurable hours. What I meant is, is my job still protected under the ESA act for
        a back to back maternity leave?

        • Barry Choi on July 23, 2023 at 6:05 PM


          Yes as the maternity leave’s are considered separate. Note that your company doesn’t have to give you the same job back, there just needs to be a job. Of course, there’s nothing stopping them from finding another way of laying you off.

  48. Jon on August 30, 2023 at 1:24 PM

    Hello Barry,

    My partner and I would like to share leave:
    We would take the first 4 weeks together, then she would take an additional 24 weeks alone. We would then take another 4 weeks together and I would take another 20 weeks alone. That would add up to 60 weeks total shared between the two of us, over a 52 weeks period.

    Would that be possible ? How much could EI give us ?
    Note that we are both working in the private sector.

    thank you

    • Barry Choi on August 30, 2023 at 1:36 PM

      Hi Jon,

      In theory that would be allowed but you would exceed the maximum payments.

      Standard parental leave in Ontario gives you up to 40 weeks of benefits. However, no parent can exceed 35 weeks of benefits. Note that new rules introduced in 2019 allows you to take 5 weeks of standard parental leave without affecting your spouse’s maximum of 35 weeks which is why there’s a limit of 40 weeks total.

  49. Guri on September 5, 2023 at 5:53 PM


    Can i change my maternity from 12 months to 8 months once processed?
    How will it affect my benefits, like would i receive same total amount in 8 months or it will continue to be whatever i am receiving right now.

    • Barry Choi on September 5, 2023 at 6:35 PM


      You can go back early, but you won’t be paid out anything extra. You would only receive EI benefits for the 8 months.

  50. Jane on September 6, 2023 at 10:34 AM

    Hi Barry

    I came to ottawa from a work permit and working for my employee here since April 2023.
    I’m a full time employee as well.My due is on November 2023.(so april to november that covers my 600 hours)Am i eligible to receive maternity and Parental benefits.(leave and pay)

    Thanks in advance

    • Barry Choi on September 6, 2023 at 11:57 AM


      You have enough insurable hours so you would qualify for full benefits.

      • Jane on September 6, 2023 at 12:12 PM

        Thanks for you prompt response. Does that mean though i hold a work permit that does not make any issue for the maternity and parental benefits right. Sorry i just need to make sure if everything is fine.

    • Barry Choi on September 6, 2023 at 1:10 PM

      Hey Jane,

      The benefit applies to foreign workers. You just need to provide the right info when applying.

      What information do I need to apply
      To complete the online EI application, you will need the following personal information:

      your social insurance number (SIN)
      if your SIN begins with a 9, you will need to provide proof of your immigration status and work permit

      • Guri on September 8, 2023 at 7:37 AM

        Really appreciate that you replied bcz mostly people dont respond

        Thank you very much

  51. Justin on October 20, 2023 at 1:18 PM

    Hi Barry,
    My wife works 2 separate part time jobs to make full time hours. How would her top 14 weeks add out.
    Does it only take the highest 14 between the ROEs two? Effectively cutting her wage in half,
    Does it combine the top 14 from each ROE together to equal what she is actually making weekly?
    Is it possible to open to separate claims, one for each employer?

    • Barry Choi on October 22, 2023 at 5:14 AM

      Hey Justin,

      I don’t know the answer to that one.

  52. Monia on December 29, 2023 at 8:05 PM

    Is the birthgiving parent eligible for maternity and extended parental leave if she is registered for EI but the other partner is not registered.

    • Barry Choi on December 29, 2023 at 8:17 PM


      If the birthgiving parent is already on EI and wanted to claim maternity/extended parental, their EI hours may be cut. It would make more sense for the other parent to take the remaining weeks.

      • Monia on December 29, 2023 at 9:29 PM

        Please elaborate what does EI hours cut mean. My partner is self employed and is not much eager to register for EI benefit program. I just want to ensure in case he does not registers for EI, I shall still be eligible for my maternity and extended parental benefit i.e 15 + 61 weeks.

        • Barry Choi on December 30, 2023 at 7:00 AM


          Sorry, I misunderstood your last comment. I thought you were already on E.I.

          Your partner being self-employed and not contributing to E.I. has no affect on your EI potential. As long as you’ve put in the eligible hours, you’d be able to claim EI. That said, your partner would not be entitled to any benefits as they have not be contributing to EI.

  53. Kristen on February 13, 2024 at 10:22 AM

    We have a part time employee that is now on maternity leave. Under her collective agreement she is entitled to her best 19 weeks (ontario) for a top up. She has started with the company since April 2023. This calculation is now showing as her earning more than what she worked overall by a substantial amount due to her first 6 weeks employed (approx 33-45 hours/week) vs the remainder of the year (22.5 / week or less). It inflates her hours per week by about 10 hours on average where based on the average overall she was around 18 hours /week now she shows as 28 hours / week. She has qualified for the maximum EI benefit. Is she entitled to a top up that shows her earning more than what she would have regularly worked while employed?

    • Barry Choi on February 13, 2024 at 10:52 AM

      Hi Kristen,

      This is more of a management / union question. Her getting top up should be based on her work agreement with the company, not what EI is paying her.

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