View from the Hill: Supporting families

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting parents and families.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting parents and families. To this end, on August 7, 2012, Prime Minister Harper announced a proposed new Employment Insurance (EI) special benefit for parents of critically ill children.

The Government recognizes the emotional and financial challenges faced by parents when a child has a life-threatening illness or injury and the vital role parents play in a child’s recovery. Once implemented, this new EI special benefit will provide income support for up to 35 weeks to parents or legal guardians of minor children (under 18 years of age) with a life-threatening illness or injury.

As with other EI special benefits, applicants (parents or legal guardians) will need to have worked a minimum of 600 hours in the last year and take leave from their employment. Self-employed workers who have opted into the EI program will need to have earned income in the previous calendar year ($6,222 in 2012) to be eligible for the benefit. All applicants will also need to submit a medical certificate signed by a Canadian-certified pediatrician or medical specialist.

Benefits may be combined with other benefits, such as the compassionate care benefit and parental benefit, or shared between parents and may also be used at any time within a 52-week period. Benefits will end once the maximum of 35 weeks of benefits have been paid, the 52-week benefit period ends, once the child’s condition improves or in the unfortunate event that the child passes away.

For the purposes of this new special benefit, a critically ill child is defined as one who has a life-threatening illness or injury for which continued parental care or support is required.

The new EI special benefit for parents of critically ill children is expected to be available in June 2013 and will help an estimated 6,000 families per year.

This new EI special benefit will ease the financial pressure on parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured children when they need it the most.  As the Member of Parliament for Kootenay Columbia, I am pleased that our government has taken this further initiative to assist and support families.

For more information, call 613-995-7246 or email david.wilks@parl.gc.ca.