OTTAWA, Nov. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Jean‑Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, met with various stakeholders, including worker and employer groups, family advocates and academics to seek their views on providing more flexible Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits and more inclusive caregiving benefits. This is part of the Government's robust plan to improve the EI program and help Canada's middle class and those working hard to join it.
This one day in-person roundtable discussion with key stakeholders complemented the feedback received from the online consultations held between October 6 and November 4, 2016.
During the consultation period:
- More than 11,500 Canadians visited the online portal;
- Approximately 2,150 responses to surveys, "quick poll" questions and open forum questions were completed; and
- More than 80 percent of participants responded individually (i.e. they did not represent an organization or institution).
The Government is in the process of consolidating and analyzing the information received through the online consultations.
Ideas, suggestions and recommendations brought forward through the online consultation and today's in-person discussion with stakeholders will help the Government of Canada implement its EI commitments and better understand the situations that could benefit from additional support in the form of benefits and leaves.
These consultations, as well as the EI measures that came into effect this past summer, are part of the Government's plan and its earlier mandate commitments to improve the EI program so that it is better aligned with today's labour market realities and is responsive to the needs of Canadian workers and employers.
"Canadian families are diverse and each family must respond to its own circumstances, including the financial and employment situation of the family members, their family composition and personal circumstances, as well as the availability of child care. For this reason, we want to improve EI to make sure that Canadians get the help they need, when they need it."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
- The Budget 2016 will provide $2.7 billion over the next two years for improvements to EI to help Canadians across the country.
- The long-standing EI waiting period will be reduced from two weeks to one, effective January 1, 2017. This is expected to ease financial pressure for EI claimants at the front end of a claim and will put an additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually.
- The Government of Canada is considering options to help parents and their families by providing for greater flexibility in EI parental benefits and unpaid leave under the Canada Labour Code.
- The Government of Canada is considering options to provide more flexible and inclusive EI caregiving benefits and unpaid leave under the Canada Labour Code to more Canadians who provide care to a family member.
EI Changes 2016
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Improving Employment Insurance by introducing more flexible parental benefits, and more inclusive caregiving benefits for Canadian families
The Government of Canada has a number of policies in place to help Canadians who are in need, and is always looking at ways to improve programs and services to help support Canadians.
In addition to assisting Canadians during unemployment, the Employment Insurance (EI) program provides temporary financial assistance to employees and insured self-employed persons who are pregnant; caring for a newborn; newly adopted, or critically ill child; sick, or caring for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. These benefits, as well as job-protected leaves under the Canada Labour Code (CLC), play an important role in supporting working Canadians to balance work and family responsibilities.
Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits and CLC Leaves
The maternity benefit provides up to 15 weeks of benefits to EI eligible birth mothers, related to childbearing and to support physical and/or emotional recovery during the weeks surrounding the birth. These benefits are payable as early as 8 weeks prior to the expected date of birth, and as late as 17 weeks after the birth of the child.
The parental benefit provides up to 35 weeks of support to EI eligible parents (biological and adoptive parents) who leave the workforce to care for a newborn or newly-adopted child or children. The parental benefit is offered per family and may be shared—it can be taken at the same time by eligible parents, or separately. Benefits may be taken in the 52 weeks following the birth or placement of a child for adoption. The benefit and leave are available to eligible opposite-sex and same-sex parents.
It should be noted that the maternity and parental benefits offered under the EI program only apply to parents who reside outside of Quebec. The Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) provides benefits to workers and self-employed Quebec residents who are eligible to take a maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave.
The CLC currently provides corresponding unpaid job-protected maternity and parental leaves for employees under federal jurisdiction. Under the CLC, an employee working in a federally regulated enterprise who has completed six consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer is entitled to:
- Up to 17 weeks of unpaid maternity leave (which can be taken up to 11 weeks prior to expected birth date and up to 17 weeks following childbirth).
- Up to 37 weeks of unpaid parental leave. The leave can be taken during the 52 week (one year) period beginning on the day the child is born or is placed for the purposes of adoption in the employee's home. The total amount of leave that may be taken by two employed parents in respect of the same birth or adoption cannot exceed 37 weeks.
Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits and CLC Leave
Since January 3, 2016, the EI compassionate care benefit allows claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits. Further, the period during which benefits can be taken was expanded to 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks). Compassionate care benefits can be shared between family members. In order to be eligible for benefits, claimants must be providing care to a seriously ill or injured family member or friend with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks. Claimants also need to have accumulated at least 600 insurable hours in the 52 weeks prior to their claim in order to be eligible for compassionate care benefits. The CLC provides a corresponding unpaid leave to employees of federally regulated enterprises of up to 28 weeks to ensure that their jobs are protected while they are providing care.
Parents of Critically Ill Children Benefits and CLC Leave
Parents of Critically Ill Children (PCIC) benefits are available to EI-eligible parents caring for a child under 18 years of age with a critical illness or injury. The child's condition must have changed significantly from their baseline state of health and be considered life-threatening. Under PCIC benefits, claimants are provided with up to 35 weeks of benefits and benefits can also be shared among eligible parents. The CLC provides a corresponding unpaid leave to employees of federally regulated enterprises of up to 37 weeks to ensure that their jobs are protected while they are providing care.
Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-employed Persons
Self-employed workers have been able to opt into the EI program on a voluntary basis since January 31, 2010, by entering into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) to pay EI premiums in order to obtain access to EI special benefits including maternity, parental, compassionate care, and PCIC benefits, and meet other eligibility criteria.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: Mathieu Filion, Director of Communications, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org