Support for families with critically ill loved ones

News release

New program will help families in need

September 25, 2018       Richmond Hill, Ontario        Employment and Social Development Canada

Today, millions of Canadians provide informal care and support for seriously ill family members. That is why in Budget 2017 the Government of Canada announced a commitment to support family caregivers with Employment Insurance benefits that are more flexible, inclusive and easier to access.

As part of this commitment the Government of Canada moved forward with the following improvements to the Employment Insurance (EI) program in order to better support workers who take time off work due to specific life events:

  • Caregivers who provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member now have access to a new benefit of up to 15 weeks. This helps more Canadians support loved ones when they need it most.
  • Immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill, for the first time, have access to a new benefit that was previously available only to parents. It replaces the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and continues to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits.
  • Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners now are able to sign medical certificates for family caregiving benefits, which simplifies the process.
  • Parents are able to choose the option that best meets their family’s needs: standard parental benefits (taken over 12 months) or extended parental benefits (taken over 18 months).
  • Eligible pregnant workers are able to receive EI maternity benefits earlier, up to 12 weeks before their due date. This increased flexibility allows pregnant workers to consider their personal, health and workplace circumstances when choosing when to begin their maternity leave.

These changes apply to EI-eligible workers, as well as self-employed Canadians who opt into the EI program for access to EI special benefits, and who meet minimum income and other requirements to qualify for EI special benefits.

These improvements were informed by consultations on EI maternity, parental and caregiving benefits and reaffirm the Government’s commitment to improving the EI program so that it is better aligned with the realities of today’s labour market and addresses the needs of Canadian families.

Quotes

“Every Canadian’s situation is unique. By making EI caregiving, maternity and parental benefits and leaves more flexible, inclusive and easier to access, we are providing hard-working middle-class Canadian families with more options to better balance their work and life responsibilities.”
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Quick facts

  • Parents are now allowed to choose between two options for receiving EI parental benefits at the time of applying:

    • Standard parental benefit
      Receiving up to 35 weeks of EI parental benefits over a period of up to 12 months, at a benefit rate of 55 percent of average weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount.

    OR

    • Extended parental benefit
      Receiving up to 61 weeks of EI parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months, at a lower benefit rate of 33 percent of average weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount.
  • Caregivers who provide care to a family member facing illness or injury are now eligible for:

    • the new family caregiver benefit for adults which provides up to 15 weeks of EI support to care for a critically ill or injured adult;
    • the family caregiver benefit for children which provides up to 35 weeks of EI support to care for a critically ill adult; or
    • the compassionate care benefit which provides up to 26 weeks of EI support to care for a family member at end-of-life.

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Associated links

Contacts

Valérie Glazer
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
819-654-5546

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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