Phil's Editorials
Boosting Support for Caregivers

June 01, 2015

Our government is here to offer support to Canadian families who are caring for loved ones facing a significant risk of death.  For many of us, these circumstances seem unimaginable. But so many Canadians face them every day.

 

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that in 2014 over 76,000 people died of cancer in Canada.  Of all the patients requiring palliative care, cancer patients account for about 80 percent of them. About 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians are living with ALS, a disease that progressively paralyzes the body.   These are just some of the hardships that Canadians and their loved ones are facing.

 

We believe that no one in this situation should have to choose between caring for a loved one and paying the bills.  Canadians who are caring for an ill family member are overwhelmed with professional and personal responsibilities.  They’ve told us that the benefits we offer right now are just not enough.  We’ve listened to Canadians, and we’re responding.

 

Our Conservative government is boosting support for caregivers through the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care 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.

 

Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to increase the duration of compassionate care benefits from six weeks to six months.  We’re also expanding the period of time during which these benefits are available.

Under the changes, Employment Insurance claimants will be able to access the 26 weeks of benefits anytime within a one-year period. The window to receive compassionate care benefits was previously 6 months.  To do this we will invest up to an additional $37 million annually.

 

We anticipate that this benefit will help 6,900 Canadians each year.

 

Starting on January 3, 2016, the enhanced compassionate care benefits will be there for Canadians who are providing end-of-life care to a sick family member.  Those already receiving the current compassionate care benefit at that time may also be eligible to receive the enhanced benefit when it comes into force.  These benefits are accessible to people caring for a parent, spouse, partner, child or sibling, and extended family members.

 

The changes also mean that employees who work in federally regulated industries, such as banking and telecommunications, will have access to the compassionate care benefit, as well as job protection.

 

To achieve this, we’re proposing to amend the Canada Labour Code to extend compassionate care leave from 8 weeks to 28 weeks.  So for those 28 weeks, federally regulated employees who take time off to care for a loved one, can receive the benefit and have peace of mind, knowing their jobs are protected.

 

Every family experiences difficult periods of illness and loss.  But for those dealing with a gravely ill family member, the circumstances can be overwhelming. Our Government is committed to supporting Canadian families, especially in times of need.

 

We want to make life easier and more affordable for families because they are the foundation of our communities, our cities and our country.