Standing up for Canadian Families - Harper Government Announces Employment Insurance benefit for parents of critically ill children available today

GATINEAU, QC, June 9, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced today that the new federal income support for parents of critically ill children is now available through the Employment Insurance (EI) program. This initiative is part of the Harper Government's continued commitment to helping families through the Helping Families in Need Act.

The new Parents of Critically Ill Children (PCIC) benefit will provide up to 35 weeks of temporary income support to eligible parents who take time off work to provide care or support for their critically ill or injured child under the age of 18.

"Our Government is making targeted, common-sense changes to ensure that the Employment Insurance program helps families when they need it most," said Minister Finley. "The new EI benefit for parents of critically ill children is another way our Government is ensuring that the EI program better responds to the needs of hard-working Canadian families."

This new EI benefit recognizes the emotional and financial challenges faced by parents when a child has a life-threatening illness or injury and the vital role parents play in a child's recovery.

It is estimated that the new EI benefit will help up to 6 000 families per year.

Parents who work in federally regulated industries will also benefit from job protection if they take a leave of absence to care for their critically ill or injured child.

For more information on this new benefit, please visit servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/pcic/index.shtml.

Backgrounder

The Government recognizes the emotional and financial challenges faced by parents when a child has a life-threatening illness or injury and the vital role parents play in that child's recovery. The new Employment Insurance (EI) special benefit, Parents of Critically Ill Children (PCIC), will provide income support for up to 35 weeks to parents or legal guardians of children (under 18 years of age) with a life-threatening illness or injury.

Parents away from work to provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child may be eligible for temporary income support through EI PCIC benefits.

As with other EI special benefits, to establish a claim for PCIC benefits, applicants (parents or legal guardians) will need to have worked a minimum of 600 hours in the shorter of the 52 weeks prior to the start of their claim, or since the start of their last claim. Self-employed workers who have opted into the EI program will need to have earned income in the previous calendar year ($6,342 in 2012) to be eligible for the benefit. All applicants will also need to submit a medical certificate signed by a medical doctor licensed to practice medicine in Canada as a specialist, as well as an authorization for release of medical information.

Benefits may be combined with other benefits, such as maternity, parental or compassionate care benefits. Parents will be able to share the 35 weeks of PCIC benefits, either concurrently or separately, and receive their benefits when most needed within a 52-week period. Benefits will end either once the maximum of 35 weeks of benefits have been paid, the 52-week benefit period ends or in the unfortunate event that the child passes away.

For the purposes of this new EI benefit, a critically ill child is defined as one whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury and who requires the care or support of his/her parents because of his/her state of health.

The PCIC benefit is available beginning June 9, 2013, to eligible parents and is not retroactive.

Other government support for parents

This new measure is part of the Government's continued action to help parents balance work and family responsibilities through the Helping Families in Need Act. Other measures include:

  • An Employment Insurance Act amendment that allows claimants who fall ill while receiving EI parental benefits to access EI sickness benefits without needing to be "otherwise available for work." This amendment is subject to remaining qualifying criteria.
  • A new federal income support for parents of murdered or missing children that took effect on January 1, 2013. This new grant provides $350 per week for up to 35 weeks to parents of murdered or missing children (less than 18 years of age) whose death or disappearance is the result of a suspected Criminal Code offence.
  • Part III of the Canada Labour Code (CLC) was amended to introduce new provisions allowing unpaid leave for parents whose child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected Criminal Code offence or who need to care for a critically ill or injured child. Workers whose employer is subject to Part III of the CLC who take advantage of the new benefits will be able to do so without fear of losing their employment.


SOURCE: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

For further information:

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

For further information (media only):

Jan O'Driscoll
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Finley
819-994-2482

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
819-994-5559
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