Maternity Leave in Quebec

It’s Mat Leave Monday! After Maria from Conversations with Moms pointed out that maternity benefits are different in Quebec, I decided to research what parents are getting in la belle province for myself. Thanks to Maria for giving this oblivious British Columbian the low down. And to everyone else, go check out her site, it’s great!

If you want to get the lowdown on maternity leave in Quebec for yourself, check out the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) online. You can also check out the federal government’s info on the QPIP.

Off the top I wondered why Quebec’s plan is different than the federally-administered plan that exists everywhere else in Canada. After all, the Employment Insurance (EI) system is the same there, and they’re part of the same country. The Quebec government says their plan “is designed to financially support new parents, encourage them to have children and help them spend more time with their children”. So, Quebec implemented the QPIP in order to offer their citizens more flexibility and better benefits, and in the process to increase the birth rate.

Quebec first decided it would like its own maternity leave plan in 1996, and informed the federal government of its intentions. The big issue was the money, as it often is. Quebecers were already paying into the EI system, and were covered by its maternity and parental plan. In order to implement a separate plan, the government of Quebec would need funding. And Quebecers would not want to pay for federal maternity benefits that they would not, or could not, use. After a decade of court cases and negotiations, the QPIP came into effect on January 1, 2006.

So, what does the QPIP offer that the regular EI system does not? Here are a few key differences:
1. Maximum insurable earnings of $62000 instead of $42300, so your maximum weekly benefits are higher.
2. Self-employed workers are eligible to receive benefits under QPIP.
3. Partners are eligible for dedicated paternity leave of 3 or 5 weeks, in addition to being eligible to share parental benefits.
4. There are two different plans available, the basic plan and the special plan.
5. The benefits are paid out at a higher percentage of your income, in addition to having higher insurable income.

So, what’s the skinny? There are two plans, the basic and the special. Both parents must collect benefits under the same plan, with the first person who collects (generally the mother) deciding which plan to use.

Under the basic plan, the birth mother is eligible for 18 weeks of maternity leave at 70% of her regular earnings, up to a maximum of $834.61 per week. Her partner is eligible for 5 weeks of paternity leave at the same rate. Parental leave, which may be shared in whole or part, is paid in two increments. The first 7 weeks are paid at 70%, and then an additional 25 weeks are paid at 55% of regular earnings, up to a maximum of $655.76 per week.

Under the special plan, the birth mother is eligible for 15 weeks of maternity leave at 75% of her regular earnings, up to a maximum of $894.23 per week. Her partner is eligible for 3 weeks of paternity leave at the same rate. Parental leave, which may be shared in whole or part, is available for 25 weeks and is also paid at 75% of regular earnings.

Adoptive parents in Quebec, like in the rest of Canada, are not eligible for maternity leave. Under the basic plan in Quebec they receive 12 weeks of benefits at 70% of earnings, and 25 weeks at 55% of earnings. Under the special plan they receive 28 weeks at 75% of earnings. Adoption benefits may be shared in whole or in part between parents.

Eligibility for QPIP is also different than eligibility for EI. To qualify for QPIP parents must reside in Quebec, have seen a reduction in their income of at least 40%, and have at least $2000 of insurable income during the past 52 weeks. Like the EI plan, there are provisions for how any income you earn while you are on benefits is handled. You can read more about that for yourself here.

I still believe that I’m very lucky to receive the maternity benefits that I do. However, after waxing poetic about how great they are I’m a little humbled to learn that some new parents have it much better than others. Under the Quebec plan my income on maternity leave would be much higher, and Jon would be eligible to receive benefits of his own. So kudos to the government of Quebec for giving new families the best start possible.

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  1. I’m not surprised Quebec has a seperate plan for Maternity leave since it’s Quebec’s plan to repopulate the world with little French speakers 😉

    if you think about it, regular Canadians are penalized by having kids. There are little to no tax benefits and no incentive to “boost the population”

  2. So, maternity leave is more about the physical impact of giving birth, while paternal leave is about parenting?

  3. very interesting, thanks for all the inbfo about your little ones eating things also. I’m glad that someone relates

  4. Thanks for the link to my site Amber. You did a great job detailing the plan. I still think as Canadians as a whole, we are very lucky compared to what the United States and other countries offer.

  5. I had one of my children before QPIP was instituted and the second one after QPIP was instituted and the difference was phenomenal in terms of the flexibility and the amount of money that my partner and I received.

  6. We moved to Quebec in June and our son was born Jan 3rd, 2009. If we’d been in any other province, I wouldn’t be getting mat leave at all since I hadn’t worked 600 hours. However, because of the $2000 requirement I’m getting over $800 a month. Not as much as I got with my other mat leaves (when I was working more), but better than the $0 I was expecting!

  7. Finally. Something in Quebec that doesn’t suck, compared to the rest of Canada. 😛

    (just kidding.)

  8. It’s also important to remember programs cost money. Specifically, mat leave entails a new tax. Now, I live in B.C., and we have a nursing shortage. We need nurses. Nurses have the best mat leave out there -better than teachers, better than…well, everyone else. If you want mat leave, become a nurse. I know that sounds unfair, but if I’m paying for you to stay home with your kids, and you work as, say, a full-time, self-employed blogger…why should I subsidize you? What are you offering society?

    Now, I am aware of how cold that sounds, and so for that, I apologize. But if it wasn’t me, someone else would have said it. After all, you are asking me to support you financially.

    Finally, here are the tax rates for both BC and Quebec. Note the vast difference. Quebecers pay a lot of tax, which is fine, but needs also to be said:

    • Anyone who is on maternity leave has worked and paid into EI in order to collect it. I worked for 10 years as an engineer myself, and collected money as a salaried employee. I paid into the system handsomely, and then collected the benefits I was entitled to. Moms on mat leave are not laying around, living on taxpayer’s money. We are collecting money from an insurance program that we paid into, while bonding with and caring for our children. In both Canada and Quebec, maternity and parental leave are administered separately from the rest of the tax system. In fact, the EI system was making a profit that was in fact subsidizing the rest of the country for years. If someone pays into the system, then why should they not be able to collect from it?

      What I offer, or do not offer, to the world as a blogger is completely beside the point. What do people who work in your average office job REALLY offer to the world? This is not a merit-based system. Your suggestion that I am contributing nothing while you support me is not only untrue, it is a personal attack. I was laid off and I am collecting severance pay and planning a new career. I am not collecting government benefits. If you issue another personal attack, I will delete your comments. My sandbox, my rules.

  9. Hi!

    I was wondering, if I quit my job, am I still entitled to Quebec Maternity Leave Benefits?
    Thank you!

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  1. […] It’s Mat Leave Monday! Today I’m discussing maternity leave and the self-employed. For a refresher on how maternity leave works in Canada, you can read my previous posts about Canadian Maternity Leave and Maternity Leave in Quebec. […]

  2. […] maternity or parental benefits, then you need to act now to opt into the EI system. (Note – If you live in Quebec you are already covered under QPIP as a self-employed […]

  3. […] you want to catch up on the other countries I’ve covered, check out my entries on Canada (and Quebec), the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. You might notice a theme – I’m sticking with […]

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