Compassionate Care Benefits, slowly but surely we are making progress.
28% of Canadians aged 15 and over provide care to family members or friends with long term health conditions (2012, Statistics Canada, Family Caregiving: What are the consequences).
We are well aware that as we are an aging society there will be more and more of us requiring some level of care. It is these unpaid carers who carry most of the caring responsibility that is required. We will be many hands short if we rely on the government. I don’t need to remind you that there are 168 hours in a week. Many individuals in the mid to later stages of many diseases require full time care.
I am glad to share that there is some good news for family carers. Effective January 3rd, 2016, the Government of Canada announced an increase in the duration of the Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefit which allows claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current six weeks, for the care of a family member with a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. As well benefits can be shared between family members. This is an important consideration when sitting down with family to review care issues going forward. It is estimated that ‘6,900 claimants per year could benefit’ from this enhanced offering.
To be eligible for compassionate care benefits, one must be able to show that:
-your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40 percent
-you have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last claim (called the qualifying period)
– you have a medical certificate signed by a doctor certifying the family member’s condition.
More detailed information is available at Service Canada who administers this program.