In today's Living in Canada (LIC) series, we will be discussing how to deal with pregnancy/having a baby while studying in Canada. This post was co-written by a friend who has chosen to remain anonymous. The process detailed below relates to immigrants on study, work permit as well as permanent resident in Canada. We hope to answer most of the questions immigrants are faced with in this area. Below are three scenarios of immigrants in Canada and some questions they usually want answered.
Emem is married and decides to go for her master’s degree in Canada. She was going to leave her husband in her home country. However, he was successful with his work permit application and they both moved to Canada. Three months after arriving in Canada, they find out they will be having a baby. What does this mean for Emem? How much will it cost them? who knows what the immigration laws hold for those who decide to have a baby while studying in Canada?
Oluchi and her husband applied and got a work permit to Canada, A few months after their arrival in Canada, they realise they are expecting a baby. Being new in the country, they are unaware of the cost associated with having a baby in Canada. What are the immigration rules? What would our employer require? Is maternity leave allowed? How long is it for?
Tosin recently moved to Canada with her husband and daughter as permanent resident. A few weeks before their move to Canada they got the exciting news that they are expecting baby number two. And all the questions began flying out their mouth. How much will it cost, what is require? How will they support the family on one income? What must they do as soon as they arrive in Canada
Our focus today would be on providing some information regarding the Canada health care system and all that is involved in having a baby in Canada especially as immigrants in Canada.
As a student, worker or permanent resident, you are recognized as resident in Canada.
For some provinces, I know specifically about Saskatchewan, you have free health coverage on the basic/necessary medical needs as a Canadian resident. All you need to do is ensure that you process the application for your health card as soon as you arrive in Canada. Based on your status in Canada, the following documents are typically required; study permit, international passport, student ID card, work permit, letter from employer, permanent residence landing documents and proof that you reside in Saskatchewan (house contract or utility bill with your name showing is enough) to the health board and they would issue a health card to you. With the health card, you enjoy free medical care and can carry out most laboratory tests for free also. The card does not cover free eye care, dental, chiropractor services and a few other services. However, you can take up student insurance to cover up to 80% of these extra services if required.
Finding a Doctor
I remember in my first year or so, finding a doctor was the last thing on my mind and this is the case with most immigrants unless they have some medical need then the search begins. It is important that you find a family doctor as soon as you arrive in Canada. Get registered at a clinic. In most provinces, you work with your family doctor until you are far gone then you are transferred to an OBGYN. Some ladies registered with an OBGYN from the beginning of the pregnancy. Either way, you will be well taken care of.
The cost of seeing your personal doctor, obstetrician/gynaecologist or even midwife is absolutely free.
The cost of laboratory tests and ultrasound is free
The cost of delivering your baby in the hospital, with a midwife if you choose, even if you use a c-section is free
You get free food after delivering your baby, free sanitary pads and diapers for your baby while in the hospital. In fact, all you need to take care of yourself and your baby or babies while staying in the hospital is absolutely free. The caveat is that if you have a normal delivery (no complications or c-section), you would be discharged within 24-72 hours. The reason is because they need the bed space to attend to other patients.
For your studies, you need to inform your course advisor as soon as you know your expected delivery date. You would need to fill out a form for maternity leave from your school. In most schools, you can only take leave once during your programme. For maternity, you are entitled to take up to one year off from your programme.
If you decide to return to school before the one year maternity leave is over, simply fill out a new form to register for classes.
Your employer should be notified in ample time about your pregnancy to ensure that they have enough time to plan and fill your position when you are away.
Maternity leave in Canada is for a year and both parents are entitled to this leave. It is up to you if you wish to go back to school or work early.
Employment Insurance (EI)
EI program offers temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers. Students do not receive EI unless they were working and met the required hours and paid EI as well. This assistance includes providing maternity benefits and parental benefits.
EI maternity benefits are offered to mothers, who cannot work because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. A maximum of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits is available. The 15 weeks can start as early as eight weeks before the expected date of birth, and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth.
EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of benefits. A person recognized as the child’s legal parent on the provincial or territorial birth certificate may be eligible to receive parental benefits.
Both benefits adds up to a total of one year(maternity Leave).
In order to qualify for the above benefits, you should have worked for at least 600hours (about 15weeks on a 40hour work week) during the qualifying period before your intended maternity leave.
EI benefit 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2017, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $51,300. Therefore the maximum you can receive is $542.49 per week.
You should apply for EI as soon as you stop working because there is usually a two week lag before you start receiving payments.
For more details on EI, please click here
Status of you Baby
On the immigration side, your baby is a Canadian citizen, you would need to apply for the baby’s birth certificate at the hospital and use that to apply for the baby’s passport. Note that the baby would be given the mother’s last name automatically, if your last name is different from your husband’s name, ensure that you fill the correct name on the birth certificate registration form. You would be charged a small fee of $25 for the long form birth certificate( includes names of both parents).
You don’t need to fill any special forms or inform immigration (CIC) about your maternity leave from your studies or employment. However, if your study or work permit expires before the completion of your programme, you can use your maternity leave as a reason for extending your visa if needed.
Do make provision for childcare and note that it is expensive and there is a long waiting list especially if the child is under 18 months. It is advisable to register your child in daycare as soon as you become pregnant to ensure that they get into your daycare of choice when you are ready to go back to school or work. If it is feasible, you might also want to consider getting your relative to come over to Canada to help. The average cost for babies under 18 months is $650 per month (it is more expensive in some provinces reaching up to $1000).
Government of Canada Benefits
CCTB- The Canada child tax benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. This benefit is only provided to families below a certain income level. Which is determined when you file your income tax.
RESP-A Registered Education Savings Plan, or RESP, is an investment vehicle used by parents to save for their children’s post-secondary education in Canada. You set up a plan with a bank or a financial institution that offers these services and you make a monthly contribution to the plan towards your child’s education. These funds are invested until your child turns 18 and is ready for university in most cases. The principal advantages of RESPs are the access to the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and a source of tax-deferred income. The basic CESG provides 20 cents on every dollar you contribute, up to a maximum of $500 on an annual contribution of $2,500. If you cannot make a contribution in any given year, you may be able to catch up in future years.
Note that you would have to apply for your child to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN). When you get that, you would be eligible to apply for Universal Child Care Benefit and CCTB for your child through Service Canada as well as setting up RESP for your baby. The money from the government is not really adequate to take care of the child but can certainly pay for baby food for the month and diapers. It won’t be enough to pay for child care if you have to return to school or work so make provision for that on your budget.
Have you had a baby in Canada, please share your experience or anything we may have missed in the comment section 🙂