More choice and flexibility for family caregivers, starting December 3, 2017

November 16, 2017         Québec, Québec       Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, today visited the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division to highlight important changes announced in Budget 2017 that will soon come into effect as part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to support family caregivers with Employment Insurance benefits that are more flexible, inclusive and easier to access.

Beginning December 3, the following improvements will be made to Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefits in order to better support workers who take time off work due to specific life events:

  • Caregivers who provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member will have access to a new benefit of up to 15 weeks. This will help more Canadians support loved ones when they need it most.
  • Immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill will, for the first time, have access to a new benefit that was previously available only to parents. It will replace the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit and continue to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits.
  • Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners will now be able to sign medical certificates for Family Caregiver benefits for adults or children, as well as for compassionate care benefits, which will simplify the process.

These changes will apply to new claims from EI-eligible workers across Canada, as well as self-employed Canadians who opt into the EI program for access to EI special benefits, and who meet minimum income and other requirements to qualify for EI special benefits.

The Canada Labour Code has been amended to ensure employees in federally regulated sectors have job protection while they receive caregiving benefits under the EI program. For employees under provincial or territorial jurisdiction, employment standards vary by province and territory.

These improvements were informed by last year’s consultations on EI caregiving, maternity, and parental benefits and reaffirm the Government’s commitment to improving the EI program so that it is better aligned with the realities of today’s labour market and addresses the needs of Canadian families.


“ Our government understands the difficult balancing act that often occurs when a loved one is going through very difficult health circumstances. Even Canadians who haven’t had to watch a parent or a sibling suffer from the final stage of a cancer or another illness almost certainly knows someone who has had to juggle a regular job with regular trips to the doctor or to the emergency room.These improvements to Employment Insurance caregiving benefits will make a difference for all those Canadians who work hard and who must also take care of a loved one. ”
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Quick Facts

  • To be eligible for EI special benefits, including caregiving benefits, individuals require 600 insurable hours of work in the 52 weeks preceding their claim. Self-employed workers may opt into the EI program and become eligible to collect special benefits. To be eligible, they must opt in at least one full year prior to claiming EI benefits and need to have earned a minimum of $6,888 in 2016 for claims in 2017.
  • Family Caregiver benefits for children and adults may be combined with the existing compassionate care benefits, which provide up to 26 weeks of benefits for those who leave work to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks.

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For media enquiries, please contact:
Émilie Gauduchon-Campbell
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
[email protected]


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