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Federal government: parents who commit to adopt children in their care are eligible for EI parental benefits

The federal government announced yesterday that parents who commit to adopt children in their care will be able to get Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits.

The government's news release also stated:

  • In recognition that adoption programs vary by province and territory, the federal government will now allow parents to be eligible for EI parental benefits as soon as they have taken the necessary steps to adopt the child in their care. This change brings the EI program in line with current adoption procedures.
  • Parental benefits under the EI program are provided to parents who qualify to take time away from work to bond with their newborn or newly adopted child or children. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological or adoptive parents.

This is the text of the accompanying "Backgrounder":

ENHANCED FLEXIBILITY FOR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI) PARENTAL BENEFITS WHEN ADOPTING

Adoption and Employment Insurance parental benefits

Parental benefits under the EI program are provided to any parent (mother or father) to care for their newborn or newly adopted child or children. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological or adoptive parents. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of benefits.

Placements for the purpose of adoption made by an agency or authorized individuals are recognized under the EI Act as adoptions. In addition to provincial adoptions, the legislation in several provinces also covers inter-provincial and international adoptions. Accordingly, parental benefits may be paid to a claimant with whom a child from the claimant's province, another province or another country has been placed for the purpose of adoption, provided this placement adheres with the laws within the province or territory where the claimant resides.

Changes to the eligibility criteria for Employment Insurance parental benefits when adopting

Under a "Foster-to-Adopt" or similarly-styled program, a child can be placed for the purpose of adoption prior to the natural parents having consented to the adoption or having relinquished their rights. Entitlement to EI parental benefits is proven from the date of placement if the following criteria are met:

  • the child was physically placed with the claimant; and
  • the claimant has made a demonstrable commitment to adopt that child under the laws governing adoption in the province or territory in which the claimant resides

The eligibility criteria for EI parental benefits have been changed, such that there is no longer a requirement that the application for adoption be submitted to a competent provincial or territorial court for an individual to qualify for parental benefits. As long as a demonstrable commitment to adopt can be shown, the placement will be considered to be made for the purpose of adoption and parental benefits will be paid. As always, these criteria will be applied on a case-by-case basis.