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Archived - Government of Canada announces enhancements to compassionate care benefits

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Family members to receive more help while caring for loved ones at risk of death

May 13, 2015– Ottawa, Ontario – Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, along with the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, on behalf of the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, today highlighted increased financial support proposed for individuals taking care of family members facing a significant risk of death.

Compassionate care benefits, which are provided through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, are available to individuals temporarily away from work to care for a sick family member with a significant risk of death. Effective January 3, 2016, the proposed enhanced benefit will allow claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current 6 weeks. The benefits can also be taken within an expanded period of 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks) and can be shared between family members.

The enhancements being made to compassionate care benefits through Economic Action Plan (EAP) 2015 reaffirm the Government’s commitment to helping families receive the support they need as they care for loved ones at end-of-life.

oday’s announcement is one example of what the Government is doing to help Canadians. To help hard-working families, the Government is also enhancing the Universal Child Care Benefit, introducing the Family Tax Cut and making improvements to the Child Care Expenses Deduction and the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.

Quick Facts

  • EAP 2015 proposes to invest up to an additional $37 million annually to extend the duration of compassionate care benefits from the current six weeks to six months, as of January 2016. Through this enhancement, the Government is ensuring that the EI program continues to help Canadians when they need it most.
  • Since March 24, 2013, the Helping Families in Need Act has allowed parents to suspend the payment of their EI parental benefits if they become ill or are injured, to collect EI sickness benefits and to resume collecting the balance of their parental benefits thereafter, if needed.
  • Under EAP 2014, the Government allowed additional flexibility to claimants in receipt of EI compassionate care benefits or EI benefits for parents of critically ill children to convert to EI sickness benefits if they become ill or are injured, and to resume collecting the balance of their parental benefits thereafter, if needed.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, the federal government invested more than $43 million in palliative care research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Economic Action Plans 2011 and 2013 committed $3 million to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association for the development of community-integrated palliative care models and $3 million to the Pallium Foundation of Canada for palliative care training to front-line healthcare providers, respectively.
  • EAP 2015 includes a further $14 million over two years to support the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. One of the Foundation’s priorities for the funding will be evaluating and disseminating data about best practices in palliative care services.
  • The Universal Child Care Benefit would increase from $100 to $160 per month (totalling up to $1,920 per year) for children under the age of 6, and parents would receive a new benefit of $60 per month (up to $720 per year) for each child aged 6 through 17.

Quotes

“Our Government understands the difficult challenges faced by Canadian families when they are caring for loved ones. We are working with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to facilitate progress in palliative care services for those with life-threatening illnesses. The investments we are making in palliative care research, training, and integrated models of care, together with provincial, territorial and stakeholder initiatives, can lead to improvements in end-of-life care, and help meet the future care preferences of Canadians.”

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health

“Our Government is committed to supporting Canadian families, especially in times of need. Every family can experience difficult periods of illness and loss. These changes ensure that families are able to care for their loved ones when needed.”

The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development

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    Backgrounder


    One of the most difficult times for anyone is when a loved one is dying or at risk of death. The demands of caring for a gravely ill family member can jeopardize both employment and financial security. The Government of Canada believes that, during such times, Canadians should not have to choose between keeping their job and caring for their family.

    Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to provide up to an additional $37 million annually to extend Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefits from six weeks to six months. Estimates suggest that up to 6,900 claimants per year could benefit from the enhanced measure.

    These changes will allow claimants who are temporarily away from work to take care of a family member with a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death to receive compassionate care benefits for 26 weeks, up from the current 6-week period.

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

    Self-employed Canadians can apply for EI special benefits (maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care and parents of critically ill children benefits) if they are registered for access to the EI program.

    This measure will come into effect on January 3, 2016. Claimants who are in receipt of compassionate care benefits at the time of coming into force would be able to benefit from the new provisions and receive additional weeks of benefits.

    Additionally, the Government has also proposed amendments to Part III of the Canada Labour Code to increase the maximum duration of compassionate care leave up to 28 weeks, and to extend the current 26-week period within which the leave can be taken to 52 weeks. This will ensure that the jobs of employees in federally regulated enterprises remain protected while they avail themselves of compassionate care benefits under the Employment Insurance program.

    Through these enhancements, the Government is ensuring that the EI program continues to help Canadians when they need it most.       

    The Government is also committed to helping Canadians receive the compassionate, end-of-life support they need. Continued work is being done with provinces, territories and partners to support efforts to improve these healthcare services for all Canadians.

    Since 2006, $43 million was invested to support palliative care research, and $6 million was provided to support initiatives to broaden the range of settings where palliative care can be delivered, and the variety of providers who can provide it. This is equipping healthcare providers with the knowledge they need to provide quality palliative care in all settings.

    EAP 2015 proposes to provide $14 million over two years to the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. One of the Foundation's priorities for the funding will be evaluating and disseminating data about best practices in palliative care services.

     


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