Employment Insurance Policy Brief

Modernizing Maternity and Parental Employment Insurance Benefits: A Policy Brief

Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits must be reformed so they can better meet the needs of Canada’s changing labour market and especially the needs of women, who rely on and access these benefits the most.

New parents who take time off to care for their children often experience a significant loss of income. During this time, maternity and parental benefits provided through the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program are critical, particularly for women. They rely on and access these benefits most often. Even today, they make up an overwhelming majority of parental leave benefit claimants at 84.4 percent.

While over the years benefit options have increased, these options cover fewer workers and provide less support for less money than when the EI program was created. 

EI maternity and parental benefits are part of decent work for women

The nonprofit sector across Canada consists of an estimated 80 percent of women workers, many of whom are the most marginalized workers in the labour market. ONN’s recent research has found that women in the sector tend to see lower compensation, while very few organizations offer maternity and parental benefit top-ups. As a result, many women workers are particularly hit with a significant loss of income when taking maternity and parental leave. For this reason, ONN is making 5 key recommendations.

Call to action

  1. Read our recommendations and associated cost analysis
  2. Share the policy brief in your networks: put a link to the brief in your newsletters, send this webpage to your networks, post it on social media
  3. Amplify our recommendations in your advocacy work

We’re part of a larger EI modernization movement

The EI program is large and has many moving parts and for this reason many in the movement are advocating for modernization of different parts of it. In our case, it is maternity and parental benefits. 

We all agree that the current EI program is not working and a broader review is needed. 

Here are some recent reports from partners: