The federal government is hoping to help support families.

Starting on December 3, parents will be able to spread their parental leave employment insurance benefits over 18 months after the birth of a child if they choose. Parents will also be able to take their maternity benefits 12 weeks before the baby is due.

The amount that a parent can receive over the 18 months will not change, as the same amount of funding that would previously be available for 12 months will be spread across the 18 months.

Other changes include an expansion for benefits for caregivers to take care of sick family members. Residents will be able to collect employment insurance benefits over 15 weeks to take care of a sick family member. If the family member is a child under 18, the caregiver benefit will extend to 35 weeks.

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, noted that the changes to the E.I. system are designed to give families more flexibility.

The system changes will automatically take effect on December 3 for workers in federally regulated workplaces. The changes have not yet been approved provincially. Roughly 8 per cent of Canadian workers work for a federally regulated workplace. The Trudeau government estimates that up to 20,000 parents may utilize the extended parental leave changes. 

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