Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles  Chapter 23 - Section 3

23.3.0 Compassionate care benefits as a part of special benefits

Compassionate care benefits, together with those benefits paid because of pregnancy (maternity benefits), to care for a new born or adopted child (parental benefits), because of illness, injury, or quarantine (sickness benefits), or to provide care or support for a critically ill or injured family member (family caregiver benefits), are known collectively as special benefits and have specific requirements for paymentFootnote 1, as well as limits to the number of weeks payable.

The maximum number of weeks for which special benefits may be paid has been set by legislation. These parameters are explained in the following section.

23.3.1 Limits to the number of weeks of special benefits payable

Each type of EI special benefits has an individual maximum number of weeks that can be paid in one benefit periodFootnote 2. The individual maximums are: 15 weeks for maternity benefits; 35 weeks for standard parental benefits or 61 weeks for extended parental benefits; 26Footnote 3 weeks for sickness benefits; 26 weeks for compassionate care benefits; 35 weeks for family caregiver for children and 15 weeks for family caregiver benefits for adults.

Special benefits may be paid in any combination during a benefit period, provided the claimant proves entitlement for each type of benefit.

A maximum of 50 weeks of benefits can be paid in the initial benefit periodFootnote 4, when regular and special benefits are combined. The only exception is when regular benefits and extended parental benefits were paid in the initial benefit period. Refer to Chapter 13 – Parental benefits, for more information on combining regular and extended parental benefits and the maximum number of weeks that can be paid under these circumstances.

A maximum of 102 weeks of combined special benefits may be payable and the initial benefit period extended to a maximum of 104 weeks, if, during that initial benefit period:

  • No regular benefits were paid to the claimant;
  • More than one type of special benefits was paid and at least one of those special benefits was paid for fewer than the applicable maximum number of weeks payable for these special benefits, and
  • The maximum total number of weeks payable for the types of special benefits requested is greater than 50.

If a specific type of special benefits was not paid during the initial benefit period, it cannot be paid during the extended benefit periodFootnote 5.

The initial benefit period ends on the earlier of:

  • When 50 weeks of special benefits have been paid; or
  • Benefit period start date plus 51 weeks plus any weeks of extension due to work-sharing or for one of the following reasons
    1. Confined in a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution and was not found guilty of the offence for which the claimant was being held or any other offence arising out of the same transaction;
    2. In receipt of earnings paid because of the complete severance of their relationship with their former employer;
    3. In receipt of workers’ compensation payments for an illness or injury;
    4. In receipt of payments under a provincial law on the basis of having ceased to work because continuing to work would have resulted in danger to the claimant, her unborn child or a child whom she was breast-feeding.

It is important to note that for the purpose of the extension of the benefit period, when reference is made to “benefits paid for a pregnancy or caring for a child”, this also refers to the provincial benefits that have been paid to the claimant for the same reasonsFootnote 6. This means that Québec Parental Insurance Plan benefits can be used to extend the EI benefit periodFootnote 7 to allow the claimant to receive the maximum number of special benefits weeks under the EI Act, other than maternity or parental, to which he/she is entitled.

A claimant who does not qualify for regular benefits under the EI ActFootnote 8, but qualifies for special benefits because of the regulatory exception EI programFootnote 9, can only receive special benefits in their benefit period.

The limit to the number of weeks of special benefits payable also includes benefits paid under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. According to a specific regulatory provisionFootnote 10, each week of Quebec Parental Insurance Plan benefits paid is considered as a week for which benefits are paid under the EI Program, and is taken into consideration in calculating the overall maximum number of weeks of EI maternity or parental benefits to be paid per benefit period, and the maximum number of weeks of EI benefits to be paid regarding a birth or an adoption.

[ October 2006 ] [ January 2006 ]

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