Federal government announces access to EI benefits for Canadians on parental leave

Effective March 24, provision could benefit up to 6,000 individuals per year

As of March 24, parents who fall ill or become injured while receiving parental benefits may be eligible for employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits with new provisions under the Employment Insurance Act, announced Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley.

Originally announced as part of the Helping Families in Need Act, this measure could benefit up to 6,000 individuals per year.

EI claimants have been unable to access sickness benefits during a claim for parental benefits because of the requirement to be “otherwise available for work.”

This has also been the case for self-employed persons, who were required to be “otherwise working” and have ceased working because of their illness or injury. The amendments to the Employment Insurance Act waive these requirements for claimants receiving parental benefits and facilitate access to sickness benefits.

This measure complements other initiatives by the federal government to ensure the EI program is fair, flexible and responds to the needs of Canadians, according to the ministry. Other initiatives include the following:

• earlier access to parental benefits for foster parents who have committed to adopting foster children in their care

• ability of self-employed persons to opt into the EI program to access maternity and parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits

• improved access to EI parental benefits for military families

• extended eligibility for compassionate care benefits to include additional family members and others considered as “family” by the person who is gravely ill.

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