What to Know about Maternity and Parental Leave in Canada

What to Know about Maternity and Parental Leave in Canada

In PART 1 of our series on maternity and parental leave in Canada, we discussed maternity leave, parental leave, and standard and extended benefits. Read on to learn about common misconceptions regarding maternity or parental leave in Canada as well about resources available to both employers and employees.

Common misconceptions regarding Maternity or Parental Leave in Canada

  1. Maternity leave is the same as parental leave

Maternity leave is only available to the birthing parent – the parent who became pregnant and gave birth to the child in question. Parental leave has nothing to do with birthing! It’s all about caring for your newborn. Both parents are eligible for parental leave regardless of whether they were pregnant or gave birth.

  1. Maternity leave is the same as maternity benefits / Parental leave is the same as parental benefits

Maternity and parental leave refer to an unpaid leave of absence – a period during which you’re not at work because of your newborn. Maternity and parental benefits are federal payments that help offset the costs of taking unpaid leave from work.

  1. Maternity and parental benefits come from Employment Insurance (EI)

Maternity and parental benefits are sourced from the EI program run by Employment and Social Development Canada – except in the province of Québec. Residents of Québec access maternity and parental benefits through the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.

  1. All employers offer income top-ups

Employers are not obliged to provide income top-ups. Consequently, only a portion of employers offer top-ups to those on maternity or parental leave.

Note: Top-up programs further DEI in the workplace. They are a means of supporting employees – showing them that they’re valued beyond their ability to produce. Top-up programs signal to employees that familial obligations won’t have an adverse effect on their careers or, in other words, that they won’t face discrimination on the basis of their maternal or parental status.

Resources for Employees Regarding Maternity or Parental Leave in Canada

Seeking information on maternity and parental leave in Canada can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there is no need to consult more than three sources: the Government of Canada, your provincial or territorial government, and your employer.

  1. The federal government: Service Canada. How do maternity and parental leave work at large?
  2. Your provincial or territorial government. Do regulations in your jurisdiction differ from those of the federal government?


British Columbia


Newfoundland and Labrador

New Brunswick

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia



Prince Edward Island




  1. Your employer. Does your employer offer income top-ups?

Tip: Avoid non-governmental sources. Maternity and parental leave fall under the purview of the government. Non-governmental sources often prove misleading or inaccurate. (Don’t worry, this blog is wholly based on governmental sources.)

Resources for Employers Regarding Maternity or Parental Leave in Canada

Like their employees, employers seeking official information on maternity or parental leave in Canada can consult (1) Service Canada and (2) their provincial or territorial government.

Employers seeking to learn more about the importance of maternity and parental leave in relation to DEI can consult the following resources.

CEC Services Related to Maternity or Parental Leave in Canada

What to Know about Maternity and Parental Leave in Canada

Governmental maternity and parental leave policies safeguard against discrimination based on maternal or parental status. Consequently, maternity and parental leave promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. As is made clear by the resources in the above section, maternity and parental leave also have a great deal to do with gender equality. Specifically, maternity and parental leave promote gender equality – they make our workplaces more equal in terms of gender.

To assist you in advancing gender equality – amongst other forms of equality – in your place of work, Canadian Equality Consulting (CEC), one of Canada’s best DEI consulting firms, offers targeted coaching, a plethora of online courses, annual GBA+ conferences, and more.

DEI 101 Course: Learn all about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace – what they are, why they are important, and how they might be applied to your organization.

Unconscious Bias Course: Examine personal and organizational biases and learn how to address them with Unconscious Bias. This course includes learnings on explicit vs. implicit biases, microaggressions, and more.

GBA+ Tools: Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is an equity tool championed by such large-scale organizations as the Government of Canada. CEC offers GBA+ assessments, customized GBA+ training, and hosts an annual GBA+ conference for professionals seeking to accelerate impact.

DEI Assessments: CEC directs comprehensive DEI assessments to determine the current state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization, providing a thorough analysis of relevant gaps, risks, challenges, and opportunities. DEI assessments provide you with actionable recommendations to effect change. Additional services include consultations, benchmarking, data and analytics, and policy and process support.

DEI Strategy and Implementation: Using organizational DEI data and industry best practices, CEC builds integrated DEI strategies, frameworks, and action plans – each of which is tailored to the needs of your organization. To ensure sustainability, CEC likewise offers implementation support.

DEI Training: CEC offers a multitude of on-demand DEI training customized to your work. CEC trainings are evidence-based and informed by industry best practices. Designed to be both impactful and sustainable, diversity and inclusion training includes courses, webinars, and workshops on such topics as Recruiting and Hiring for Diversity and Inclusive Language and Communications.

Equitable and Inclusive Leadership Certification: CEC’s leadership development program is designed to spearhead diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The Equitable and Inclusive Leadership Certification program equips users with the know-how to increase diversity in the workplace and build a culture of inclusivity.

CEC Subscription Services: Subscription services set you up for a year-long partnership with CEC centred around learning, support, and capacity-building. Subscribers have access to an interdisciplinary community of DEI experts, countless policy templates, a library of DEI tools and resources, monthly DEI webinars, and more.

Struggling to find something that meets the needs of your organization? Reach out to CEC about developing a custom DEI strategy.

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