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New EI program to support parents of critically ill children

Parents who must take time off work to care for critically ill or injured children will be able to apply for up to 35 weeks of Employment Insurance under a proposed new special benefit expected to be available in June 2013.

“Balancing work and parental responsibilities is very difficult these days, even in the best circumstances”, said Daryl Kramp, Prince Edward Hastings MP. “It becomes enormously challenging when mom and dad are trying to care for a child who is critically ill or injured. Our government understands that by easing parent’s financial strain during these times, they can focus on the well-being of their child.”

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.

This measure is part of the government’s continued action to help parents balance work and family responsibilities. Other recently introduced measures include:
A new federal income support for parents of murdered or missing children will take effect January 1, 2013.
Foster parents who commit to adopt the foster children in their care can now receive EI parental benefits sooner.
Self-employed Canadians who opt into the EI program can now receive maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, in addition to the new EI special benefit.
Military families now have improved access to EI parental benefits. Members of the Canadian Forces who are ordered to return to duty while on parental leave, or whose parental leave is deferred as a result of an imperative military requirement, now have a window of up to 104 weeks following their child’s birth or adoption in which to access part or all of their 35 weeks of EI parental benefits.
Eligibility for the compassionate care benefit was extended to include additional family members and others considered as “family” by the person who is gravely ill.
Assistance is also provided to parents through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.

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