OTTAWA -- The federal government is facing increasing pressure to close a loophole preventing new mothers from having their maternity leave fully covered.

The Opposition Conservatives are asking the Liberals to allow expecting mothers to qualify for their full employment insurance parental leave, even if they currently receiving federal unemployment aid.

The call follows a similar request made by the federal New Democrats to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough that said a current workaround to allow unemployed mothers to qualify for EI wasn't working.

As is, eligible workers need a minimum number of hours on the job to qualify for EI benefits.

When a new mother receiving EI benefits gives birth, they have to file a new EI claim, meaning they need to meet the hours requirement, even though they have been unable to work because of the pandemic.

Opposition critics say they worry new parents might be forced to stay home without income support, or potentially be forced to look for work before they're ready and able.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.