Changes to Pregnancy Leave Program

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 1, January, February 2010, page(s) 37 News

One of the improvements achieved in the 2007 Physician Master Agreement was the expansion of the Pregnancy Leave Program to a full Parental Leave Program effective 1 April 2010.

The current Pregnancy Leave Program provides a benefit for female physicians who take a leave from practice following the birth of a child. Their leave may be started up to 11 weeks before their expected due date and no later than the actual date of birth of the child. The maximum benefit is $880 per week, based on eligible income, and is payable for up to 17 weeks.

Under the Parental Leave Program the weekly benefit maximum will in­crease and both male and female phy­sicians will be eligible for a benefit. 

The program covers leaves taken as a result of pregnancy of an eligible physician or the physician’s spouse, or the adoption of a child. A physician who has a child by surrogate will be eligible for a benefit if he or she meets the other criteria for the program.

Unlike the current program, two physicians who are married or living common law can each claim a benefit and can take their leaves together or consecutively. Leave(s) can start up to 11 weeks before the expected birth or placement date of a child and no later than 18 weeks following the date of birth or placement. Each physician planning to claim benefits must complete an application package.

The benefit will be 50% of the phy­sician’s average weekly eligible in­come during the calendar year prior to the start of the leave (or in the 12 months immediately prior to the leave, if this produces a larger benefit), up to $1000 per week. “Eligible income” includes MSP fee-for-service and/or sessional billings and/or payments made under a nonsalaried service contract.

Benefits must be greater than $25 per week to be payable.

A benefit will not be paid for any week in which the claimant earns eligible income from the practice of medicine or receives any other maternity, pregnancy, or parental leave benefit from another program. Claimants must make a weekly declaration of their eligibility to receive a benefit, online via the BCMA web site.

Benefits will be payable weekly via direct deposit to the claimant’s bank account.

The benefits will be taxable and T4As will be issued to recipients in February for benefits received in the previous calendar year. Incorporated physicians may have their benefit payments deposited to a corporate bank account, in which case a T4A will not be issued.

Claimants who do not return to the practice of medicine in British Columbia for at least 17 weeks no later than 52 weeks after their child’s date of birth or placement will be required to repay their benefits on a pro-rata basis.

If you or your spouse is pregnant and planning to take a leave from practice beginning on or after 1 April 2010, you can contact Ms Lorie Arlitt, Paren­tal Leave Program Administrator at the BCMA, for an application package. Lorie can be reached at 604 638-2882, or toll free in BC at 1 800 665-2262 ext. 2882 or by email at

Please note: All leaves begun up to 31 March 2010 will be subject to the rules of the Pregnancy Leave Program.