EI Caregiving benefits and leave: Information for medical professionals

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Caregiving benefits are available to eligible caregivers who provide care or support to a patient who is critically ill or injured or in need of end-of-life care. Caregivers must be family members or someone who is considered to be like family.

  • The Family caregiver benefit for children provides financial assistance to caregivers providing care or support to a critically ill or injured child under the age of 18. Caregivers can receive up to 35 weeks of this benefit.
  • The Family caregiver benefit for adults provides financial assistance to caregivers providing care or support to a critically ill or injured adult 18 years of age or older. Caregivers can receive up to 15 weeks of this benefit.
  • Compassionate care benefits provide financial assistance to caregivers providing care or support to a person who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (6 months). Caregivers can receive up to 26 weeks of this benefit.

As a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, you may be asked to complete a medical certificate to support a caregiver’s application for benefits. On this certificate you must indicate whether the patient is critically ill or injured or has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. A caregiver who intends to apply for benefits must submit this medical certificate and the Authorization to release a medical certificate to Service Canada.

Medical certificate

On the medical certificate for family caregiver benefits for adults or children you must:

  • confirm that the patient is critically ill or injured
  • state the date you are certifying the patient became critically ill or injured
  • confirm the patient needs care or support of one or more caregivers
  • state the specific time period for which the critically ill or injured patient is expected to need care or support
    • the date on the certificate cannot be unknown or indefinite but you can issue a second certificate if the timeframe needs to be extended
  • confirm whether or not the patient is able to consent to the release of medical information

You can issue a second medical certificate if the critically ill or injured patient requires care or support from a caregiver for a longer timeframe than indicated on the first medical certificate. A change in the patient’s baseline state of health is not necessary in this case. The information on the second certificate should be the same as on the first, with a new date until which care or support will be required. Benefits are payable (15 weeks for adults and 35 weeks for children) during a 52-week period from the date you indicate on the medical certificate.

On the medical certificate for compassionate care benefits you must:

  • confirm that the patient has a serious medical condition
  • confirm that the patient is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks
  • confirm that the patient needs care or support of one or more caregivers
  • confirm whether or not the patient is able to consent to the release of medical information

Even if more than one caregiver intends to claim benefits, only one medical certificate needs to be completed.

Authorization to release a medical certificate

We understand medical doctors and nurse practitioners cannot release medical information about a patient without their consent. As such, we ask claimants to complete and submit the Authorization to release a medical certificate form along with the medical certificate:

In section D of the medical certificate you must indicate the patient’s capacity for consent because the patient must sign the authorization form if they are capable. If the patient is unable to consent to the release of their medical information because of a physical or mental condition, the patient’s legal representative must sign the authorization to release a medical certificate form. If the patient is below the age of majority, their parent or legal guardian must complete the form.

If the patient resides outside of Canada

The medical certificate for the person who is critically ill or injured or needing end-of-life care should be completed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner in the country where they are receiving care.

The medical certificate may be signed by a person who is authorized by the appropriate governmental authority of a country other than Canada to perform the work of a medical doctor or of a nurse practitioner and who has professional qualifications that are substantially similar to those of a medical doctor or of a nurse practitioner practising in Canada.

Definitions

Care or support

For the purpose of caregiving benefits, care is defined as all care that is required because of a person’s state of health, other than the care provided by a health care professional.

For the purpose of caregiving benefits, support is defined as all psychological or emotional support that is required because of a person’s state of health.

Critically ill or injured adult

Any person who is critically ill or injured and is 18 years of age or over on the first day of the period set out on the medical certificate by the medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

Critically ill or injured child

Any person who is critically ill or injured and is under the age of 18 on the first day of the period set out on the medical certificate by the medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

Family member

Family member, in relation to caregiving benefits, 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
  • A person who is considered to be like a close relative, whether or not related by marriage, common-law partnership, or any legal parent-child relationship
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