Government of Canada Enhances Compassionate Care Benefits

Ottawa, ON - Larry Maguire, Member of Parliament for Brandon-Souris highlighted increased financial support proposed for individuals taking care of family members facing a significant risk of death. Compassionate care benefits, which are provided through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, are available to individuals temporarily away from work to care for a sick family member with a significant risk of death. Effective January 3, 2016, the proposed enhanced benefit will allow claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current 6 weeks. The benefits can also be taken within an expanded period of 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks) and can be shared between family members.

The enhancements being made to compassionate care benefits through Budget 2015 reaffirm the Government's commitment to helping families receive the support they need as they care for loved ones at end-of-life across Canada and in Westman.

"One of the most difficult times for any of us is when we're faced with losing a loved one," said Maguire. "And our Government doesn't want Canadians to have to choose between keeping their job or caring for their family. Through the Employment Insurance program, Compassionate Care Benefits provide financial assistance to people who have to be away from work temporarily to care for a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death."

A recent Parliamentary Committee report on Palliative and Compassionate Care showed that family caregivers provide a substantial amount of care, 70 - 80 percent in fact. "Family and friends are the invisible backbone of the Canadian healthcare system," it stated. As so we want to ensure that the program parameters better reflect this reality.

The Compassionate Care Benefit can be used to care for a parent, spouse, partner, child or sibling, and extended family members. Here is an example to illustrate just how much these changes will mean:

An individual works full time, earning an annual salary of $49,500, and is eligible for EI. This person's mother is terminally ill with significant risk of death in the next six months. As a result, this person is eligible for EI Compassionate Care Benefits. Under the current policy, the individual would only receive up to six weeks of benefits, totalling just over $3,000. However, with our new extension, they would be eligible to receive benefits for up to six months, providing a total benefit of almost $14,000. This is a four-fold increase in support. And it means this individual can care for her mother and have one less thing to worry about during this difficult time.

Maguire concluded, "We'll ensure that families have the financial means to stick together during tough times. We want to make life easier and more affordable for families because they are the foundation of our communities and our country. And that's why our Government is helping on multiple fronts."

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