On March 22, 2018, the Quebec government introduced Bill 174: An Act mainly to relax the parental insurance plan to promote better family-work balance. If enacted, this Act comes into force on the date of assent, except section 12, which comes into force on the date to be set by the Government.
The main changes in the Bill include:
1. Maternity benefits
- Increase the period, currently 18 weeks, to 25 weeks, within which maternity benefits can be provided following the birth of a child.
- Increase the number of weeks of maternity benefits for a multiple pregnancy. In the event of a multiple pregnancy, the maximum number of weeks of benefits is increased by five weeks, from 18 to 23 (four for the special plan).
- Ensure payment of maternity benefits begin not earlier than the sixteenth week preceding the expected date of delivery and end not later than 25 weeks after the week of delivery. However, payment may end after expiry of the 25 weeks, but before the fifty-second week after the week of delivery, if the child is hospitalized and if, on request, the benefit period is extended throughout the child’s hospitalization. On request, payment of maternity benefits may end after expiry of the 25-week period, but before the fifty-second week after the week of delivery if, in the cases and for the time prescribed by regulation of the Conseil de gestion, the benefit period is extended;
- Ensure a termination of pregnancy occurring after the nineteenth week of pregnancy gives entitlement to the same benefits as in the case of maternity. In this case entitlement will increase from 18 weeks to 25 weeks
2. parental, paternity and adoption benefits
- Extend from 52 to 104 weeks the period within which parental benefits as well as paternity or adoption benefits may be paid.
- Create an exclusive five-week benefits for each adopting parent (three for the special plan) and offer 32 weeks of adoption benefits, which can be shared by both parents (28 for the special plan). This change would increase the total number of benefit weeks from 37 to 42 (from 28 to 31 weeks for the special plan).
3. Death of a child
- Postpone the end date of benefit payments when a child dies. It will be two weeks after the death rather than the same day.
4. Other QPIP measures that affect all leaves
- Allow parents to replace up to two weeks of parental insurance benefits with days off for parental responsibilities that can be used later. Moreover, parents would have the opportunity to set up a bank of up to 10 days of leave from their unused benefits to use to meet the needs of the child within three years of birth or adoption. family for adoption. This addition would make it possible to compensate financially for the loss of wages suffered by some parents when they are absent from work for family and parental obligations. Employees would be paid within the same conditions as the current insurance plan (55% or 75% of the salary depending on the duration of the parental leave chosen).
- Exclude from the qualifying period and the calculation of benefits certain weeks in which the parents’ income was lower than their regular work income.
- Allow parents to spread parental leave over two years, with the employer’s agreement, which will allow the interruption of the leave and benefits to return to work among other things.
- Allow the possibility of a gradual return to work (i.e., 4 day workweek), particularly to allow mothers to continue breastfeeding and facilitate the transition to childcare.
5. Changes to the Act respecting labour standards
Bill 174 also includes employment standards changes related to statutory leave periods, which include:
- Amendments to increase parental, paternity or adoption leaves from 52 weeks to 104 weeks.
- Amendments to add that in the event of a child’s death, the paternity leave must end at the end of the second week after the week of death.
According to the government, the change in rules is not expected to result in any additional cost to the government, since there is no actual increase in the monetary value of parental leave benefits.
Although employees are happy about the upcoming changes, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) says Quebec already has the best parental leave program in Canada and the program did not need changing right now. They are worried that tweaking the program could create problems for employers.