Changes to compassionate care benefits come into force

Workers may collect up to 26 weeks of benefits

An increase in the duration of the employment insurance (EI) compassionate care benefit came into force on Jan. 3.

The benefits provide temporary income support to eligible individuals who must be away from work to provide care for a gravely ill family member at risk of death.

The enhanced benefit, announced in 2015, allows claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current six weeks. Further, the period during which benefits can be taken is expanded to 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks). Benefits can be shared between family members.

Eligibility for compassionate care benefits remains the same, including the requirement for a medical certificate signed by a doctor attesting to the family member’s condition.

Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code will come into force at the same time to ensure the jobs of employees in federally regulated enterprises remain protected while they avail themselves of compassionate care benefits under the EI program.

"We have pledged to work toward giving Canadians more support by making this benefit more flexible, easier to access and more inclusive,” said Minister of Employment MaryAnn Mihychuk.

The minister also said the government will work towards providing more generous leave for caregivers in the future.

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