Supporting Parents of Critically Ill Children

August 27, 2021

Ottawa Journal (August 27 – August 31, 2021)
David Tilson, MP

Our Government is committed to supporting Canadian families, especially when they face extremely difficult and unfortunate circumstances, such as caring for a child with a life-threatening illness or injury. We recognize that parents play a vital role in a child’s recovery and understand the many financial pressures these families face while they balance work and caring for their children. This is why our Government has announced a proposed new special benefit to help ease the financial pressure of these parents so they may focus on what’s most important to them – their families.

On August 07, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the proposed new Employment Insurance (EI) benefit for parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured children. 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 (for the purposes of this new EI 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).

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, which is also customary with other special EI benefits. 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 be required to submit a medical certificate signed by a Canadian-certified pediatrician or medical specialist.

The new EI special benefit may be combined with other benefits, such as the compassionate care benefit and parental benefit or shared between parents. It 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.

The new special EI benefit is expected to be available in June 2013 and will help an estimated 6,000 families per year. It is also part of our Government’s continued action to help parents balance work and family responsibilities. Other measures implemented by our Government include: expanding eligibility for compassionate care benefits; allowing self-employed workers to opt into the EI program to receive maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefit; and improving access to EI parental benefits for military and foster families.

We are a Government committed to supporting Canadian families and responding to their needs. The proposed new EI special benefit for parents of critically ill children is another way we’re responding to those needs with real action.