Changes to Compassionate Leave Impacts Caregivers
Canadian workers are eligible to receive Compassionate Care benefits to provide care to any loved one, following a change to the Employment Insurance Regulations. Compassionate Care benefits help workers who decide to take temporary leave from their job to provide care or support to a loved one at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. They also reduce stress on the gravely ill person by making it easier for their loved ones to be by their side.
What has changed:
Previously, rules specified that the benefits could be used to provide care or support to spouses and common-law partners, parents and children. As a result of regulatory changes made in June 2006, workers can take temporary leave from work to provide care or support to siblings and grandparents, in-laws, and even close friends. The change puts the emphasis on caregiving, not on family relationships.
What you need to know to apply:
Six weeks of compassionate care benefits are available, with a two-week waiting period. These weeks of benefits can be shared with other people who would like to provide care, and they can be taken simultaneously, consecutively, or however is most appropriate. Each caregiver must make their own application. However, only one waiting period must be served.
Families are encouraged to agree upon how to share benefits prior to submitting the first claim. The benefit can be paid regardless of where the ill family member lives. Compassionate Care benefits can be combined with regular, maternity, parental, and sickness benefits. The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, to a maximum of $435.00 per week.
Eligibility requirements for the benefit are the same as for other EI special benefits. You must have worked for 600 hours in the last 52 weeks to qualify, or since you last claimed EI. You will need a Record of Employment from your employer. You will also need an EI compassionate care medical certificate, signed by the patient’s physician. In addition, if you would like to care for someone who is not a relative, you will need a special form (an attestation) signed by the gravely ill person, indicating that they consider you “like a family member.” Both the attestation and the medical certificate are available on the Service Canada Website, and at your local Service Canada Centre.
Job protection is available in most of the country for caregivers providing care to parents, children and spouses. This means that if you claim Compassionate Care benefits, your job (or one like it) will be waiting for you when you return to work.
Protection for compassionate leave is not available in Alberta and the Northwest Territories for jobs falling under provincial or territorial jurisdiction. Also, while the EI Compassionate Care benefit now covers all family members and people who consider you like family, provincial and territorial labour codes may not offer job protection for leave to provide care to these other relations. Please check with your employer and/or the provincial government to verify that you have job protection before you take caregiving leave.
For more information about EI Compassionate Care benefits, or to apply:
- Internet: servicecanada.gc.ca Click on “Access Employment Insurance Services,” then “Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits
- Phone 1 800 206-7218/TTY: 1 800 529-3742
- In person: To find the Service Canada Centre nearest you, visit servicecanada.gc.ca or call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).
reprinted from December 2010 The Family Caregiver Newsmagazine