QUÉBEC, Nov. 16, 2017 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, today visited the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division to highlight important changes announced in Budget 2017 that will soon come into effect as part of the Government of Canada's commitment to support family caregivers with Employment Insurance benefits that are more flexible, inclusive and easier to access.
Beginning December 3, the following improvements will be made to Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefits in order to better support workers who take time off work due to specific life events:
- Caregivers who provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member will have access to a new benefit of up to 15 weeks. This will help more Canadians support loved ones when they need it most.
- Immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill will, for the first time, have access to a new benefit that was previously available only to parents. It will replace the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and continue to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits.
- Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners will now be able to sign medical certificates for Family Caregiver benefits for adults or children, as well as for compassionate care benefits, which will simplify the process.
These changes will apply to new claims from EI-eligible workers across Canada, as well as self-employed Canadians who opt into the EI program for access to EI special benefits, and who meet minimum income and other requirements to qualify for EI special benefits.
The Canada Labour Code has been amended to ensure employees in federally regulated sectors have job protection while they receive caregiving benefits under the EI program. For employees under provincial or territorial jurisdiction, employment standards vary by province and territory.
These improvements were informed by last year's consultations on EI caregiving, maternity, and parental benefits and reaffirm the Government's commitment to improving the EI program so that it is better aligned with the realities of today's labour market and addresses the needs of Canadian families.
" Our government understands the difficult balancing act that often occurs when a loved one is going through very difficult health circumstances. Even Canadians who haven't had to watch a parent or a sibling suffer from the final stage of a cancer or another illness almost certainly knows someone who has had to juggle a regular job with regular trips to the doctor or to the emergency room.These improvements to Employment Insurance caregiving benefits will make a difference for all those Canadians who work hard and who must also take care of a loved one. "
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
- To be eligible for EI special benefits, including caregiving benefits, individuals require 600 insurable hours of work in the 52 weeks preceding their claim. Self-employed workers may opt into the EI program and become eligible to collect special benefits. To be eligible, they must opt in at least one full year prior to claiming EI benefits and need to have earned a minimum of $6,888 in 2016 for claims in 2017.
- Family Caregiver benefits for children and adults may be combined with the existing compassionate care benefits, which provide up to 26 weeks of benefits for those who leave work to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks.
Information for EI claimants
EI caregiving benefits:
The EI program currently offers two caregiving benefits: the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit, available to parents caring for a critically ill child; and the Compassionate Care benefit, available to individuals providing end-of-life care to a family member. As of December 3, 2017, there will be additional support for EI‑eligible caregivers who leave work to care for a family member: the Family Caregiver benefit for adults. The suite of caregiving benefits will be grouped into two categories: Family Caregiver benefits (for adults and children) and Compassionate Care benefits.
Family Caregiver benefits
- Family Caregiver benefit for adults
Starting December 3, 2017, the new Family Caregiver benefit for adults announced in Budget 2017 will allow eligible Canadians to receive up to 15 weeks of benefits to provide care or support to an adult family member 18 years of age or older who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).
- Family Caregiver benefit for children
Up to 35 weeks of benefits will continue to be available while providing care or support to a child under 18 years of age who is critically ill (i.e. whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury and who has experienced a significant change in their baseline state of health).
Starting December 3, 2017, this benefit, formerly known as the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit, will be renamed the Family Caregiver benefit for children. Eligibility will be extended to any eligible family member providing care to the child, rather than being limited to parents. The definition of family member will be broadened to include relatives beyond the immediate family and individuals who are not relatives but are considered to be like family. For example, an aunt or uncle could be eligible to receive the benefit to provide care to a critically ill child. These changes were introduced to accommodate the needs of diverse family situations and provide enhanced flexibility and access to this benefit.
Medical doctors and nurse practitioners will be allowed to sign a medical certificate to certify that a child is critically ill, rather than only specialist medical doctors.
Claimants can share these Family Caregiver benefits either concurrently or separately, and receive their benefits when most needed within a 52-week period.
Compassionate Care benefit
The Compassionate Care benefit provides up to 26 weeks of benefits to individuals who are away from work to care for or support a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks.
If the health condition of the family member deteriorates, caregivers could combine the Family Caregiver benefit with the existing Compassionate Care benefit.
Effective December 3, 2017, a medical certificate signed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner will be acceptable when applying for the Compassionate Care benefit.
Information for employers
Employers should be aware of the changes to EI benefits and corresponding leave provisions under Part III of the Canada Labour Code proposed in Budget 2017, as they may have an impact on their supplementary benefits to EI caregiving benefits, also known as top-ups. All the EI and Canada Labour Code changes, and complementary adjustments to the Employment Insurance Regulations, will be brought into effect on December 3, 2017. Employers should review the terms of any collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts and benefit plans they hold or administer, to assess any implications they may have for their organization and members.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: For media enquiries, please contact: Émilie Gauduchon-Campbell, Press Secretary, 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, [email protected]