Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 24 - Section 17
24.17.0 Family caregiver benefits
Family caregiver benefits are available to an eligible family member(s) for the purpose of providing care or support to a critically ill or injured child or adult, also referred to in this chapter as “care recipient”.
Critically ill child
The Regulations define a critically ill child as a person who is under the age of 18 on the first day of the period set out by the doctor or nurse practitioner, whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.
Critically ill adult
The Regulations define a critically ill adult as a person who is 18 or over on the first day of the period set out by the doctor or nurse practitioner, whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.
Care or support
Care of a critically ill or injured care recipient is defined as all care that is required because of the care recipient’s state of health, other than the care provided by a health care professional.
Support is defined as the psychological or emotional support that is required because of a critically ill or injured care recipient’s state of health.
The definition of care or support may also include situations where the claimant simply spends time each day with the critically ill care recipient in the home, a hospice or a medical facility.
24.17.3 Who can receive Family Caregiver benefits?
For the purposes of entitlement to family caregiver benefits, the term "family member" in relation to the care recipient, means any one of the following:
- Spouse or common-law partner
- Child, their spouse or common-law partner
- Child of spouse or common-law partner, their spouse or common-law partner
- Parent, their spouse or common-law partner
- Parent of spouse or common-law partner, their spouse or common-law partner
- Sibling, step-sibling, their spouse or common-law partner
- Sibling, step-sibling of spouse or common-law partner
- Grandparent, their spouse or common-law partner
- Grandparent of spouse or common-law partner
- Grandchild, their spouse or common-law partner
- Grandchild of spouse or common-law partner
- Uncle, aunt, their spouse or common-law partner
- Uncle, aunt of spouse or common-law partner
- Nephew, niece, their spouse or common-law partner
- Nephew, niece of spouse or common-law partner
- Current or former foster parent
- Current or former foster parent of spouse or common-law partner
- Current or former foster child, their spouse or common-law partner
- Current or former ward
- Current or former ward of spouse or common-law partner
- Current or former guardian, their spouse or common-law partner or
- A person who is considered to be like a close relative, whether or not related by blood, adoption, marriage or common-law partnership
24.17.4 Medical certificate required
Claimants must submit a medical certificate signed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner
The medical doctor or nurse practitioner signing the medical certificate is required to attest that the care recipient is critically ill or injured and requires the care or support of one or more family members, as well as indicate the period during which the care recipient is expected to require care or support.
Medical professionals are not authorized to release medical information without the patient's consent, or unless required by law. Therefore, an authorization must also be signed by the patient, to authorize the medical professional to release the medical information to the Commission. If the patient is incapable of consenting to the release of medical information for reasons of his/her age or a physical or mental condition, the authorization form must be completed by the patient’s legally authorized or appointed representative. If a medical certificate is not accompanied by the authorization to release medical information for the patient, the claimant will be disentitled from benefits.
It is recognized that one medical certificate may underestimate the initial time required to care and support a critically ill or injured care recipient and in these circumstances a second (subsequent) signed medical certificate containing the same information as the first, will be required in order to revise the dates during which the care recipient requires care or support.
24.17.5 More than one critically ill family member
If more than one care recipient is critically ill as a result of the same event or unrelated events, a separate 52 week window may be established for each of the care recipients. However, the maximum number of weeks of family caregiver benefits payable is 35 per child , or 15 per adult, during the related 52 week window, as well as during a benefit period. This means that two family members could each establish a benefit period, one in respect of one care recipient, and the other in respect of the other care recipient, and be payable the maximum weeks each. Neither family member can collect benefits in relation to both care recipients simultaneously.
24.17.6 Waiting period
Family caregiver benefits may be paid to one or more family members. Like all claims for employment insurance benefits a one-week waiting period must be served before family caregiver benefits can be paid under the EI Act Footnote 1.
The waiting period may be waived if, after having ceased work, the claimant received sick leave paid by an employerFootnote 2 or when the claimant works for more than one employer, if he was paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings for the same employer.
Employment Insurance legislation provides that only one waiting period must be served in respect of the same care recipient for family caregiver benefits. In situations where the first family member made a claim for benefits, and served the waiting period, it can be deferred for the second family member claiming family caregiver benefitsFootnote 3.
However, the deferred waiting period for the second family member would need to be served following receipt of family caregiver benefits in situations where other types of benefits such as sickness or compassionate care benefits are subsequently claimed. Furthermore, when family members decide to share the family caregiver benefits and apply for benefits at the same time, they may choose which one will serve the waiting period. The other family member may then have the waiting period deferred.
It should be noted that a claimant is only required to serve one waiting period when claiming benefits in respect of one critically ill care recipient. In the event that a second benefit period is required to ensure the claimant can receive all Family caregiver benefits the legislation allows, the waiting period can be deferred on the second claim.
Waiving the waiting period should not be confused with deferring the waiting period. In the event that the waiting period was waived for the first family member, the second family member would be required to serve the waiting period as a waiting period was not previously served in respect of the same care recipient. The only exception to this would be in a situation where the second family member also received sick leave pay from his/her employer or when the claimant works for more than one employer; if he was paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings for the same employer, the conditions have been met to waive the waiting period.
24.17.7 When family caregiver benefits are payable
Benefits are payable within a 52-week window that beginsFootnote 4:
- on the day the first medical certificate is issued; or
- if the claim is made before the certificate is issued, from the date the medical doctor or nurse practitioner certifies that the care recipient is critically ill or injured.
The 52-week window endsFootnote 5:
- when all benefits have been paid between one or several family members; or
- the 52-week period ends; or
- the care recipient no longer requires care or support.
24.17.8 The number of weeks for which Family caregiver benefits may be paid
Under the EI program, a qualified claimantFootnote 6 may receive up to 35 weeks of family caregiver benefits for children or up to 15 weeks of family caregiver benefits for adults in a benefit period. Furthermore, the global maximum number of weeks of family caregiver benefits paid in respect of the same care recipient cannot exceed 35 for a child or 15 weeks for an adult. As a result, when the family members share these EI benefits, the total number of weeks they can receive between them cannot exceed the individual maximum for each benefitFootnote 7. A claimant making an application for family caregiver benefits will be asked to provide information on the other family members for cross-reference purposes.
24.17.9 Earnings while in receipt of family caregiver benefits
Any earnings received while in receipt of EI family caregiver benefits for the self-employed must be declared and will be deducted from benefits at a rate of 50 cents of EI benefits for every dollar earned or received while on claim, up to a maximum of 90 percent of the weekly earnings used to establish their EI benefit rate. Any earnings above this threshold are deducted dollar for dollar from benefits [EI Act 19(2)].
Detailed information on the rules regarding the deduction of earnings while receiving benefits can be found in Digest Chapter 1.9.8 – Earnings while on claim and on the Government of Canada website.
24.17.10 When out of Canada
It is recognized that the critically ill or injured care recipient may not always reside in Canada and the claimant may be required to leave the country to provide the required care or support to the care recipient, wherever he/she resides. In these situations, it is permissible to leave the country for this express purpose. It remains necessary for the claimant to submit a medical certificate completed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner providing the same information that is required when the critically ill care recipient resides in CanadaFootnote 8.
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