Every day, Canadians across the country provide care and support for their family members, selflessly putting their needs aside for those of the ones they love. To ensure family caregivers have the proper support, the Government of Canada vowed to support family caregivers with Employment Insurance (EI) benefits that are more flexible, inclusive and easier to access.
In the last year, the Government of Canada made the following improvements to the EI program:
- Caregivers who provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member now have access to a new family caregiver benefit for up to 15 weeks. This helps more Canadians support loved ones when they need it most.
- For the first time, immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill have access to a new benefit that was previously available only to parents. It replaces the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and continues to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits.
- Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners are now able to sign medical certificates for family caregiving benefits, which simplifies the process.
These changes apply to EI-eligible workers, 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.
These improvements were informed by consultations on EI maternity, parental and caregiving 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.
- As of October 2018, a total of 10,200 claims have been established for caregiving benefits for adults and children:
- 6,400 family caregiver benefit claims for adults
- 3,800 family caregiver benefit claims for children
- Of the 10,200 claims, it is estimated that approximately 4,300 were made in Ontario.
- It is estimated that approximately 22,000 claims will be established for the new EI caregiving benefits by fall 2019.
- The EI waiting period was shortened from two weeks to one week in January 2017 with the aim of easing the financial strain for EI claimants. This change will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually. By October 2019, about 5 million claimants are expected to have benefited from the reduction of the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week.