While employed family caregivers (over age 60) in Hawaii are now eligible to receive a $70 per day stipend to pay for additional care support for a family member, we have something different.
As of December 3, 2017 there was a new EI Family Caregiver Benefit which provides for “eligible caregivers to receive up to 15 weeks of financial assistance to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured adult”. Eligible caregivers depending on their wages could earn up to $574 a week and the 15 weeks of benefit may be shared by eligible caregivers over the 52 week period either at the same time or one after another.
Care is defined as “participating in the care of” and Support is defined as “providing psychological or emotional support”.
There is a broad definition of family which includes “immediate family as well as other relatives and individuals considered to be like family, whether or related by marriage, common-law partnership or any legal parent-child relationship.”
The definition of critically ill or injured adult is defined as “anyone 18 or over whose baseline state of health has changed significantly and whose life is at risk as a result of illness or injury. They must also need the care or support of at least one caregiver.
If the person is already living with a chronic medical condition, caregivers are not eligible for the Benefit unless the person’s health changes significantly because of a new and acute life-threatening event.” A medical certificate must be completed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.
The terms seem to me to be broad and open to interpretation. I would think that an older person who gets the flu or pneumonia meets the requisite criteria and family who stay with them to provide care and support would qualify for a paid leave of absence. I can only hope that the government approval process will be relatively uncomplicated and in keeping with the spirit of the legislation.
Should the person’s situation further deteriorate, the Compassionate Care Benefit is also available, providing up to an additional 26 weeks of employment insurance benefits.
I continue to applaud employers who support their caregiving employees and while not all employers are like Microsoft, who this summer announced they are providing their caregiving employees with a 4 week paid leave of absence, this federal announcement is welcome news.