New measures build on Helping Families in Need Act
GATINEAU, QC, Oct. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), on behalf of the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, today announced enhanced access to Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for parents of critically ill children (PCIC) and claimants receiving Compassionate Care benefits (CCB) if they themselves fall ill or are injured while caring for a family member. The amendments, proposed in Economic Action Plan 2014, take effect on October 12, 2014.
Claimants in receipt of PCIC benefits and CCB will now be able to shift to EI sickness benefits and resume collecting the balance of PCIC benefits and CCB thereafter, if needed. This change builds on the flexibility offered to EI parental benefit claimants through the Helping Families in Need Act.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 committed $2.4 million over two years and $1.2 million per year ongoing to enhance access to EI sickness benefits for claimants who receive PCIC benefits and CCB.
- Since March 24, 2013, the Helping Families in Need Act has allowed parents to suspend the payment of their EI parental benefits if they become ill or are injured, to collect EI sickness benefits, and to resume collecting the balance of their parental benefits thereafter, if needed.
- These latest changes build on several existing support measures that help relieve financial pressure on families during difficult times and make a real difference when they need it most. These existing measures include:
- providing earlier access to parental benefits for foster parents who have committed to adopting a child or children in their care;
- enabling self-employed people to opt into the EI program to access maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits as well as benefits for parents of critically ill children;
- improving access to EI parental benefits for military families;
- extending eligibility for CCB to include additional family members and others considered as "family" by the person who is gravely ill;
- introducing the PCIC benefit for parents who are unable to work while providing care or support to a child under 18 years of age with a critical illness or injury;
- providing—in addition to these EI support measures—a new grant of $350 per week that may be provided for up to 35 weeks to parents of murdered or missing children (under 18 years of age) whose death or disappearance is the result of a probable Criminal Code offence; and
- providing assistance to parents through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.
"Our government will continue to ensure that families receive the support they need and deserve to help them balance work, family and caregiving responsibilities. These latest changes will provide additional financial security to Canadians who need it at a critical time in their lives."
– The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development)
- News Release: Harper Government introduces the Helping Families in Need Act
- To learn more about both the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and the Compassionate Care benefit, please visit http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/index.shtml
Economic Action Plan 2014 (EAP 2014) proposed enhancing access to sickness benefits for claimants who receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children (PCIC) or Compassionate Care Benefits (CCB).
These changes will be implemented on October 12, 2014, and will allow claimants who are temporarily away from work to take care of a critically ill or injured child or a gravely ill family member with a significant risk of death to convert their claims in order to access sickness benefits, should they themselves fall sick or become injured.
Until now, EI claimants have not been able to access sickness benefits during a claim for PCIC or CCB because of the requirement to be "otherwise available for work" or, for self-employed persons, to be "otherwise working" and have ceased work because of their illness.
The amendments will waive these requirements for claimants receiving PCIC or CCB, facilitating access to sickness benefits. This change will ensure that the EI program continues to be fair and flexible to better respond to the needs of Canadians.
PCIC benefits provide up to 35 weeks of support for parents or legal guardians of minor children with a life-threatening illness or injury. CCB provide up to six weeks of benefits for the care of a gravely ill family member with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. These changes mean that combined with up to 15 weeks of sickness benefits, recipients of PCIC could receive up to 50 weeks of total special benefits and recipients of CCB could receive up to 21 weeks of total special benefits.
Under EAP 2014, the Government also introduced amendments to Part III of the Canada Labour Code to expand existing leave provisions, particularly those regarding compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness of a child, and leave related to death or disappearance of a child, and fully align these leaves with associated EI special benefits. The amendments will allow employees working for federally regulated employers to interrupt these leaves to take sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave while maintaining their job protection.
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
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