By Allison Venditti (October 25, 2022)

Mother and Father with newborn

Now that extended 18 month parental leaves are an option in Canada, how do we choose?

Canadian parents have the choice of taking the standard (12 month) parental leave or an extended (18 month) leave.

Although it’s great to have options, how does one choose? Here are four things to consider when deciding what length of parental leave is right for you.

Know that you can change your mind.

If you start with 12 months then decide later that you would like to extend your parental leave to 18 months, your job will still be protected. Just make sure you give the right amount of notice to your employer and to Service Canada – all things we cover in our My Parental Leave course!


The total amount of your Employment Insurance (EI) benefits is the same whether you take 12 or 18 month parental leaves. The payments just get divided up over 12 months vs 18 months. Oftentimes, people select the 12 month leave option initially so they can receive higher monthly payments for that first year, even though they plan to take the full 18 months of leave. In these cases, the parent on leave would not receive any EI payments for the final six months.

If you have a partner, will they be taking any parental leave?

The length of your parental leave will impact how many weeks of leave will be available for your partner. For example, if you opt for the standard leave (12 months), your partner is also entitled to a portion of that leave if you choose to split it. If you decide to take an extended leave (18 months), your partner will be entitled to longer leave as well. Make sure you sit down and look at the options together!

Daycare considerations.

It’s often easier to find childcare for an 18 month-old than a one-year old. Some daycares don’t accept children until they are toddlers and unfortunately, most daycares have long wait lists. With careful planning you can find the right care for your child, but this is an important consideration. You may also want to consult local parenting groups on the childcare options in your area.

The 12 versus 18 month parental leave option is just one of the important decisions you will make as a new parent. These are not choices your employer or your friend can make for you!

If you need guidance, My Parental Leave walks you through all these decisions with the support of our dedicated team of parental leave experts.

About the author

Allison Venditti, CHRP, CHRL is a career coach, Human Resources and return-to-work expert with over 15 years of experience creating programs, policy and best practices that improve workplace cultures and increase employee retention. She is the founder of My Parental Leave and Moms at Work, Canada’s largest professional network for working moms