Increase in the number of new parents who share their parental leave. More weeks of leave on average for fathers and mothers. More workers getting benefits following the birth or adoption of a baby.

Nearly three years after the implementation of measures aimed at improving the flexibility of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), the Parental Insurance Management Council recently took stock of the impact of these by unveiling complete data from the first cohort of providers.

“With these figures, we realize that at the end of the day, we are creating a much more egalitarian system,” rejoices Marie Gendron, President and CEO of the Parental Insurance Management Council.

Among the changes that came into force on January 1, 2021, the measure that has attracted the most attention is the incentive aimed at getting couples to divide the 32 shareable weeks of parental leave more equitably⁠1. Once each parent takes a minimum of eight weeks, four additional weeks of benefits are added to the family bank.

In light of the data revealed at the end of November, we see that this improvement was quickly adopted by families. Before the measures were put in place, only 8% of couples would have been eligible. Since January 2021, 22% of providers have been able to take advantage of it.

When this measure was implemented, some feared that this incentive would have a downward impact on the length of mothers’ leave, since they often took almost all of the shareable weeks. However, the 2021 data show that the average number of weeks of benefits increased slightly for both fathers and mothers, going from 9 to 9.7 weeks for fathers and from 45.2 to 45.9 weeks for mothers, between 2020 and 2021. This number of weeks includes both weeks exclusively reserved for mothers or fathers and shareable weeks.

The changes made to the RQAP in 2021 also had a positive effect for self-employed workers, notes Marie Gendron. They now use a greater proportion of the weeks offered by the RQAP. In 2020, self-employed workers took 91% of the weeks that could be allocated to them, compared to 95% in 2021. According to Marie Gendron, two of the new measures contributed to this increase.

First, the increased possibility of working without being penalized while receiving benefits.

Then, the right to spread benefits over a period of 18 months rather than 12 months.

Employees can also benefit from these measures, she adds, for example, during a gradual return to work.

These measures which offer “more flexibility” are also welcomed by employers. In November 2022, a survey conducted by the Réseau pour un Québec famille indicated that more than 73% of Quebec employers were in favor of the changes made to the RQAP.

Other changes in recent years include improved benefits for adopting parents as well as a new benefit for multiple births.