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September 21, 2021

Parents of twins snag double EI benefits

An Ottawa couple has set a precedent that could extend benefits for parents of multiple-birth children, doubling their entitlement to Employment Insurance leave to care for their twin girls.

Last week, EI’s Board decided to allow Christian Martin to claim 35 weeks of parental benefits for one newborn daughter after his spouse had already made a successful claim for 35 weeks for the other child.

Both parents work for the federal government. When they learned they were having two babies, they both applied for EI benefits, but Martin was turned down.

Currently, parents with sufficient qualifying hours and up to date EI premiums are allowed to claim 35 weeks of parental leave, in addition to the 15 weeks available to biological mothers.

Either parent can take the time or they can share it. But the law stipulates 35 weeks for a single pregnancy or adoption, not a single birth.

Until now. 

What about quads, you ask? Not likely, according to the family’s lawyer, who suggests that the ruling would effectively extend benefits to each qualified parent but not for each child in multiple births — parents of triplets could not claim a total of 105 weeks of parental leave, for example.

The government can either challenge the decision or amend the EI rules to provide increased benefits automatically for parents of twins, triplets or more.

Tell us: What’s your experience with such parental benefits? Is this good social policy? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...