EI Changes for Caregivers and New Parents

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Starting on December 3, 2017 there will be several changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program. These changes could affect you if you are a new parent or if you are caring for a family member who is very sick.

As of December 3, if you are a new parent:

  • You will be able to choose whether you would like to receive standard parental benefits over 12 months or the new extended parental benefits over 18 months. If you choose to receive parental benefits over 18 months, you will receive 33% of your income up to $326 per week. If you receive standard benefits over 12 months, you will receive 55% of your income up to $543 per week.
  • If you work in a federally regulated industry, your job is protected if you choose to take extended parental leave. Otherwise, your employer only needs to keep your job for you if you choose to take the standard leave (12 months).
  • If you are pregnant, you will have the option of receiving your maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before your due date. Right now, you can receive maternity benefits 8 weeks before your due date. The maternity benefit amount (55% or up to $543 a week) and duration (15 weeks) does not change under the new rules.

As of December 3, if you are caring for a critically ill or injured family member:

  • You will be able to receive benefits for up to 15 weeks if you are taking care of an adult under the new Family Caregiver Benefit for adults.
  • You will be able to receive benefits for up to 35 weeks if you are taking care of a child under the Family Caregiver benefit for children. This program will replace the Parents of Critically Ill Children benefit. Family members will be able to receive this benefit whereas right now, only parents are eligible.
  • A medical doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to sign a medical certificate for the Family Caregiver benefits or for Compassionate Care benefits.

To be eligible for these EI special benefits, you must have worked 600 insurable hours in the 52 weeks before you apply for EI. If you work for yourself, you must opt-in to the EI program at least a year before you apply and you need to have earned a minimum of $6,888 in the past year.

You can learn more about EI eligibility in the Am I eligible for Employment Insurance? article.