Harper Government announces access to EI sickness benefits for 6 000 eligible parents effective March 24, 2013

Ottawa, ON — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, is pleased to announce that approximately 6 000 individuals on parental benefits may be able to access Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits effective March 24, 2013. 

“The Harper Government is committed to supporting Canadian families, particularly when they most need it which is why we introduced the Helping Families in Need Act,” said Minister Finley. “The changes make EI more flexible for parents, allowing them to qualify for sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured while receiving EI parental benefits.” 

As of March 24, 2013, parents who fall ill or become injured while receiving parental benefits may be eligible for EI sickness benefits with the new provisions under the Employment Insurance Act. Originally announced as part of the Helping Families in Need Act, this new measure could benefit up to 6 000 individuals per year. 

EI claimants have been unable to access sickness benefits during a claim for parental benefits because of the requirement to be “otherwise available for work.” This has also been the case for self-employed persons, who were required to be “otherwise working” and have ceased working because of their illness or injury. The amendments to the Employment Insurance Act waive these requirements for claimants receiving parental benefits and facilitate access to sickness benefits.

This new measure complements other initiatives by the Harper Government to ensure that the EI program is fair, flexible and responds to the needs of Canadians. These include the:

  • Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant;
    • earlier access to parental benefits for foster parents who have committed to adopting foster children in their care;
    • ability of self-employed persons to opt into the EI program to access maternity and parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits;
    • improved access to EI parental benefits for military families;
    • extended eligibility for compassionate care benefits to include additional family members and others considered as “family” by the person who is gravely ill; and
    • assistance to parents through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.