Toronto resident Steven Lew and his wife Erin were thrilled when they found out they were expecting their first child. But their initial sense of elation was mixed with an immediate concern. ‘You start realizing you need to have time off work,’ says Lew. ‘And we didn’t know how maternity benefits/parental leave worked or how much time we were entitled to. The challenge was figuring out how much we could expect to get per month and how much time we could afford to take away from work.’
Fortunately, with their combined benefits, Erin and Steven were able to be at home with their son for a full year, with Erin heading back to work after eight months and Steven taking the final few months on his own. But it did take careful planning and saving to make it work. ‘You really need to plan ahead because there are lots of details you need to know about,’ says Steven.
There’s no question that for working couples like Steven and Erin, preparing for a new baby is more than just buying the right crib and stroller. Most new parents want to take a few months to a year off work to be with their new baby. But determining how much you’re entitled to and whether your employer will kick in anything is key—after all, you want to make sure you’re financially stable during your time off.
Maternity and parental benefit payments are part of the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program and apply equally in all provinces except Quebec (which has its own program). However, eligibility for leave from work and the length of time you can take are governed by provincial labour and human rights codes, and so can vary slightly. Be sure to check the regulations in your province.
To help you find out what you’re entitled to, here are five basic facts about how maternity and parental benefits work in all parts of Canada except Quebec (see below for info on Quebec).
Maternity and parental benefits in Canada:
If your annual family income is $25,921 or less, you will also receive the EI Family Supplement. The additional payment depends on your net family income, the number of children you have and their ages. It’s added automatically to eligible claims and can increase your benefit rate to as much as 80% of your average insurable earnings, but your total benefit is still capped at $501 per week.
Maternity and parental benefits in Quebec:
In Quebec, maternity and parental benefits fall under a provincial program, the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). QPIP offers two different plans: the basic, with longer leave provisions but lower benefits; and the special, with higher benefits paid over a shorter time. Here’s how they work:
If your net family income is less than $25,921, you may be granted an increase in benefits.
More information on maternity and parental benefits is available from the Government of Canada.
Brenda Spiering is editor of BrighterLife.ca
Not all news has to be that serious. How about this—kids are now averaging $3.70 per lost tooth. According to Yahoo!, that’s a huge increase from just two years ago. In 2011, the good ‘ol Tooth Fairy was handing out $2.60 per tooth—that’s a 42% increase.
Inflated Tooth Fairy
Whatever happened to a shiny quarter or a loonie under the pillow? Well, that just isn’t the going rate anymore. Apparently, parents don’t want their kids to be one-upped on the playground. Like how bad would you feel if your 6-year-old came home saying their friend received triple the amount—try explaining that one.
As Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and prof at Golden Gate University, stated: ‘A kid who got a quarter would wonder why their tooth was worth less than the kid who got $5.’ Yahoo! further reported that some parents are doing their research with other parents in order to determine the going rate for the Tooth Fairy.
There is an app for everything…literally
Visa has come out with a Tooth Fairy app. Seriously? The goal is to help parents of different generations who are struggling to determine how much to give their children, based on specific demographics, such as income, education level and age group. Not sure if this small crisis would be considered a struggle (first world problems, anyone?)—but hey, there’s an app for that…