Area of Law: Employment Law
Answer # 627
Caregiver benefitsRegion: Ontario Answer # 627
Who is a caregiver?
Under the Employment Insurance Act, care or support of a family member means:
- providing psychological or emotional support; or
- arranging for care by a third party; or
- directly providing or participating in the care.
Types of caregiver benefits
Currently, there are three types of Employment Insurance (EI) caregiver benefits available. Benefits are available to people who provide care or support for 1) a family member who is gravely ill and at significant risk of death, 2) a child who is critically ill or injured, and 3) an adult who is critically ill or injured.
Who qualifies as a family member?
The list of qualifying family members is long and includes children, spouses, parents, a spouse’s parents, grandparents and grandchildren. The definition of spouse includes those who are legally married and those who have been in a common-law relationship for at least one year. For a full list of eligible family members, visit canada.ca.
1. Compassionate care benefits
Compassionate care benefits are available to people who have to take time off work temporarily, in order to provide care or support to a family member who is seriously ill and who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (six months).
2. Family Caregiver Benefit for Children
This benefit, which replaced the Parents of Critically Ill Children (PCIC) benefit, is available for caregivers who take leave from work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured child who is under the age of 18. Caregivers must be family members or someone who is considered to be like family to the child who is in need of care or support.
3. Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults
This benefit is available for caregivers who take leave from work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured adult who is 18 years of age or older. Caregivers must be family members or someone who is considered to be like family to the person who is in need of care or support.
When is a child or adult considered critically ill?
A child or adult is considered critically ill or injured if their life is at risk as a result of the illness or injury. There must also be a significant change from their normal or baseline state of health at the time they are assessed by a specialist medical doctor. The illness or injury must be such that continued care or support by at least one caregiver is required.
If the normal state of health of the child or adult includes a chronic illness or condition, caregivers are not eligible for the benefit.
How long can you receive benefits?
You can receive benefits for the following amount of weeks:
- Compassionate Care benefits: up-to a maximum of 26 weeks
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Children: up-to a maximum of 35 weeks
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults: up–to a maximum of 15 weeks
Each individual caregiver benefit can be shared with other eligible caregivers for the length of that specific benefit, during a 52 week period, at the same time or one after another.
How much can you receive?
The benefit amount is generally based on 55% of average insurable earnings. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $595 for 2021. The exact amount will be determined when the application is processed.
Who is eligible for benefits?
To be eligible for any of the three caregiver benefits, you must be able to show that:
- your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40%; and
- you have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks, or since the start of your last claim (this period is called the qualifying period)
Can benefits be combined?
Both Family Caregiver Benefits for Children and Family Caregiver Benefits for Adults can be taken consecutively with other benefits, such as the Compassionate Care benefit when a family member’s health deteriorates. However, you must meet the eligibility criteria for each benefit. For more information, visit canada.ca.
How to apply
To apply for EI benefits, you must submit an application online on the Government of Canada website. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can apply online at any Service Canada Centre using one of the computers they have available. To maximize your benefit amount, submit your application as soon as you leave your employment.
Temporary changes due to COVID-19
Due to the current pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to various employment law programs and procedures. For the most up-to-date information on changes regarding caregiver benefits, visit canada.ca.
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