The British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) administers five major benefit programs that are available to practicing BC physicians and surgeons. This is the final post in a series describing the various benefit programs. In previous posts I have discussed the Continuing Medical Education (CME) benefit , the Contributory Professional Retirement Savings Plan (CPRSP), the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) rebate and the Physician’s Disability Insurance (PDI) program.
Many working Canadians are eligible to receive Maternity and Parental Benefits through Employment Insurance (EI). However, most physicians are unable to access EI as they are considered self-employed and EI exempt.
The Parental Leave Program (PLP) provides up to $1,000 per week for 17 weeks to BC physicians who take a leave from their practice as the result of the birth or adoption of a child.
The benefit amount is calculated as 50% of average weekly eligible income earned in the calendar year prior to taking leave, or in the 12 months just prior to taking leave if greater, up to a maximum of $1,000 per week. Eligible income is fee-for-service income paid by the Medical Services Plan (MSP), sessional income and non-salaried earnings under a service contract with a government agency. Billings to ICBC and WorksafeBC are not eligible.
Benefits are payable as follows:
- Benefits are payable in full each week a physician does not work;
- Benefits are payable at 50% of the full benefit amount for each week a physician works up to 15 hours;
- Benefits are not paid in any week where a physician works 15 or more hours;
- Benefits are not paid if the weekly benefit amount is $25 or less;
- Benefits are not paid for any week where pregnancy, maternity or parental leave benefits are received from another program (including EI).
A physician participating in the PLP must submit a weekly declaration of earnings from work or other leave programs prior to the benefit payment.
Parental leave benefits are payable up to a maximum of 17 weeks. Leave can start up to 11 weeks prior to the expected due date or placement date of the child, and must start no later than 18 weeks after the birth or placement of the child. Leave doesn’t have to be taken all at once – it can be broken up as the doctor prefers, but must be used within 52 weeks of the initial start date. To be able to claim PLP benefits, an application must be submitted to the BCMA within 8 weeks of the birth or placement of the child.
Unlike EI maternity and parental benefits, the PLP has a return to work condition. PLP benefits must be repaid on a pro-rata basis if the physician has not returned to practicing medicine in BC for at least 17 weeks within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or placement.
The PLP is available to each BC physician with eligible income. Doctors who are married or living common law can both apply for benefits.
Payments received personally for the parental leave benefit are considered taxable income and are reported on a T4A slip. Payments made to a physician’s professional corporation are income to the company and a T4A will not be issued.
Unlike the CPRSP, CME and CPRSP rebate programs, non-members of the BCMA are entitled to receive the benefit without payment of administration fees.
Additional information on the PLP and other benefits is available from the BCMA.