Backgrounder: Changes to the Employment Insurance Program


The Government of Canada has introduced comprehensive changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program that benefit:

  1. Caregivers
    Eligible Canadians can now receive the following benefits: family caregiver benefits to provide care or support to critically ill or injured adults or children, and compassionate care benefits to provide support to a family member at end-of-life.

  2. Parents
    This includes maternity and parental benefits and leaves in addition to the new parental sharing benefit coming in 2019.

  3. Workers
    The new measures include eliminating restrictive new entrant and re-entrant rules, reducing the two-week waiting period, making permanent new Working While on Claim rules, simplifying job search responsibilities for EI claimants and launching Skills Boost.


Family caregiver benefit for adults

Since December 3, 2017, the new family caregiver benefit for adults announced in Budget 2017 allows eligible Canadians to receive up to 15 weeks of benefits to provide care or support to an adult family member 18 years of age or older who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).

Family caregiver benefit for children

Up to 35 weeks of benefits continue to be available while providing care or support to a child under 18 years of age who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and who has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).

Since December 3, 2017, eligibility was extended to any eligible family member providing care to the child, rather than being limited to parents. The definition of family member has been broadened to include relatives beyond the immediate family. For example, an aunt or uncle could be eligible to receive the benefit to provide care to a critically ill child. These changes were introduced to better respond to the needs of diverse family situations and provide enhanced flexibility and access to this benefit.

Compassionate care benefit

The compassionate care benefit provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to individuals who are away from work to care for or support a family member at end-of-life who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks.

If the health condition of the family member deteriorates, caregivers could receive the family caregiver benefit followed by the compassionate care benefit.

Medical doctors and nurse practitioners can now sign a medical certificate for family caregiver and compassionate care benefits to certify that a child is critically ill, rather than only specialist medical doctors.

Claimants can share these caregiver benefits either at the same time or separately, and receive their benefits when most needed within a 52-week period.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: