Enhanced access to EI sickness benefits
The Employment Insurance Act is amended to allow claimants who fall ill while receiving EI parental benefits to access EI sickness benefits.
Currently, to be eligible for sickness benefits under the EI program, claimants must "otherwise be available for work," or for self-employed persons, "otherwise be working" and have ceased working because of their illness. People on parental leave from their employer are not considered to be available for work, so they do not qualify for sickness benefits.
Under this Bill, the Government is waiving this requirement for parents receiving EI parental benefits so that they can qualify for sickness benefits if they fall ill, subject to remaining qualifying criteria. This change enhances access to EI sickness benefits and ensures that the EI program continues to be fair and flexible to better respond to the needs of Canadian families.
Sickness benefits (15 weeks maximum) may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine.
EI special benefit for parents of critically ill children
This new EI benefit will provide income support for up to 35 weeks to eligible parents caring for a child (under 18 years of age) with a critical illness or injury. The benefit was announced August 7, 2012, and will be available starting in June 2013.
As with other EI special benefits, claimants will need to have worked a minimum of 600 insurable hours in the last year. Self-employed workers who have opted into the EI program will need to have earned income in the previous calendar year ($6,342 in 2013) to be eligible for the benefit. All applicants will also need to submit a medical certificate signed by a Canadian-certified pediatrician or medical specialist.
This benefit may be shared between parents within a 52-week period. Benefits will end after one of these conditions is reached: the maximum of 35 weeks of benefits have been paid; the 52-week benefit period ends; the child's condition improves to the point where parental care or support for the condition is no longer required; or in the unfortunate event that the child passes away.
Amendments to the Canada Labour Code
Part III of the Canada Labour Code will be amended to introduce new provisions allowing unpaid leave for parents whose child dies or disappears as the result of a probable Criminal Code offence or who need to care for a critically ill child. Employees whose employer is subject to Part III who take advantage of the new enhanced provisions will be able to do so without losing their employment as a result. The amendments to the Canada Labour Code will take effect on January 1, 2013 for parents of murdered or missing children, and in June 2013 for parents of critically ill children.
Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children
Effective January 1, 2013, a new grant will provide $350 per week of income support 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 probable Criminal Code offence.
To receive this taxable grant, announced April 20, 2012, affected parents will need to have earned a minimal level of income in the previous calendar year ($6,500) and take leave from their employment.
If the missing child is found while the grant is being received, the grant will continue for two weeks to allow the parents to spend time with their child. This will be contingent on meeting other entitlement criteria (that is, the recipients have not resumed working, they have not exhausted their benefits and it has not been more than one year since the disappearance).
Office of Minister Finley
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
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