December brought important improvements to Employment Insurance special benefits. The changes primarily affect maternity, parental and caregiving benefits, which are now more inclusive, more flexible and easier to access. Here are the highlights:

  • A new Family Caregiver benefit of up to 15 weeks will be available for eligible caregivers to provide care to a critically ill or injured adult family member.
  • The Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit will continue to provide up to 35 weeks of benefits and will be renamed the EI Family Caregiver benefit for children. Eligibility for this benefit is being expanded to a wider support network that includes immediate and extended family members, as well as loved ones considered to be like family.
  • Access to EI caregiving benefits will be improved by allowing medical doctors and nurse practitioners to sign medical certificates.
  • Parents will be able to choose between standard (taken over 12 months) or extended (taken over 18 months) parental benefits. This will allow them to select the option that best suits their family needs.
  • Eligible pregnant workers will be able to receive EI maternity benefits earlier, up to 12 weeks before their due date. This increased flexibility will allow them to better take into account their personal, health and workplace circumstances when choosing what date to begin maternity leave.

In discussing the new benefits Ruby Sahota, MP Brampton North, said, “Our government understands the importance of being there for loved ones in their time of need and that families are the life blood of our society and come in all different shapes and sizes.”

Want to look at all the details of these expanded benefits? You can go to the Employment Insurance Improvements page here and dig right in.