Government of Canada increases duration of Employment Insurance compassionate care benefit

The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced the coming into force of a previously announced increase in the duration of the Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefit, which will provide additional financial security to Canadian workers and their families in times of need.

The Minister also said that the Government will work towards providing more generous leave for caregivers in the future. The Government has committed to making the compassionate care benefit more flexible, easier to access and more inclusive, she said.

Compassionate care 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.

Effective January 3, 2016, the enhanced benefit, announced in 2015, allows claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current 6 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 that the jobs of employees in federally regulated enterprises remain protected while they avail themselves of compassionate care benefits under the EI program.

Quick Facts  

  • It is estimated that up to 6,900 claimants per year could benefit from the enhanced measure that will take effect in January 2016.
  • In 2013–14, program costs for the current compassionate care benefit amounted to $12 million. An additional $37 million is being added annually to extend the duration of the compassionate care benefit over and above the current program costs.
  • The measure will have a negligible impact on the EI premium rate.