Canadian Government Extending Maternity Leave to 18 Months

The government is extending the period that Canadians can claim maternity and parental benefits.

 Under the new Federal Budget, women will be able to access maternity benefits 12 weeks before their estimated due date, which is an increase from the current 8 weeks.  You will also be able to claim up to a year and a half, or 18 months total, up from the current year-long leave.

 That's great news for those who experience early labor and birth, have very ill babies or are medically unable to work in their last trimester.  Be warned though - after the first 12 months, your benefit rate drops down to just 33% of your regular earnings before leave!