Many employees in Canada have busy schedules in which they work full-time and care for their children and aging parents. Most of them do not even identify themselves as caregivers. They simply try their best to be good daughters, sons, mothers, and fathers but constantly feel like they are not doing well enough at anything. Caregiving pressures take a toll on them physically, mentally, and financially.
Once afraid to share, caregiving employees are now speaking up about the realities of what they are facing: secret frantic calls to look for last-minute care, and growing frustration and fear as they try to manage everything without letting their employer see them sweat or even cry.
At some point, most Canadians will either be family caregivers or need them. However, no one should have to choose between caring for their family and keeping their job. That is why the Government of Canada offers compassionate care benefits to support caregivers. Discover if you are eligible for this support.
What is Compassionate Care Benefit?
Compassionate care benefits (CCB) are a part of the Employment Insurance (EI) programme, which offers temporary income assistance to employees who take time off work to care for their seriously ill family member, who may even be at significant risk of dying within 26 weeks (6 months).
What are the different types of caregiving benefits available in Canada?
In Canada, there are three distinct types of caregiving benefits, which include:
- Family caregiver benefits for children: This benefit provides a maximum of 35 weeks of payable assistance to those who are providing care to a gravely ill or injured person under the age of 18.
- Family caregiver benefits for adults: This benefit offers a maximum of 15 weeks of payable assistance to those who are providing care to a gravely ill or injured person who is 18 years of age or older.
- Compassionate care benefits: This benefit provides a maximum of 26 weeks of payable assistance to those who are providing care to individuals of all ages and who require care for the remainder of their lives.
Who is eligible for Compassionate Care Benefits?
To qualify for Compassionate Care Benefits, an employee must meet the following criteria:
- Experience a significant decrease in income due to employment interruption, reducing their weekly earnings by over 40 percent.
- Accumulate at least 600 hours of insurable employment within their qualifying period (within the last 52 weeks or since the start of their last claim) to unlock compassionate care benefits.
- If a claimant has violated a previous claim, they must have more than 600 hours of insurable employment in their qualifying period.
- Eligible claimants must provide a medical certificate stating that their family member has a serious condition with a significant risk of death.
- Unemployed workers who are receiving EI benefits or self-employed individuals who have voluntarily enrolled in the EI program can apply for Compassionate Care Benefits.
Who is considered a family member?
The Compassionate Care Benefits program has a broad definition of family members, which can include:
- Grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, and so on.
- Family members of a common-law partner or spouse, such as daughters-in-law, sons-in-law (married or common law), and so on.
Can you receive compassionate care benefits to look after a close friend?
Yes, you can. You are eligible for Compassionate Care Benefits to care for a gravely ill friend or other close person. However, the patient or their legal representative must confirm on the attestation form that they consider you a family member.
How much are compassionate care benefits?
The exact amount of money you’ll receive from the Compassionate Care Benefits program can’t be determined until your application is processed. However, most people receive 55% of their average insurable weekly earnings with a maximum limit of $650 per week in 2023. This is the base rate used to calculate Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
When can payments start?
If you’re eligible for Compassionate Care Benefits and have provided valid documents, you’ll receive your first payment after 28 days from registration. If your claim is denied, you’ll receive a notification with an explanation.
Is there a waiting period for compassionate care benefits?
Yes, you are required to wait for a week before receiving benefits. It’s similar to the deductible that other types of insurance require you to pay. However, waiting periods may be waived or postponed in some cases. For example, if family members are sharing Compassionate Care Benefits, the first claimant will serve the waiting time while the others won’t. Only if the other family members later claim regular, sickness, maternity, or parental benefits will they have to spend a waiting period.
Actually, you and other eligible family members can share 26 weeks of benefits. To share these benefits, you need to determine how many other family members are claiming CCBs to care for the same ill family member and how long each member will claim. Each family member can claim CCBs at any time during the 26 weeks, either at the same time or at different times.
Is your job protected if you take compassionate care leave?
Most territorial and provincial labour codes provide job protection for workers who take compassionate care leave. During your leave, your employer must maintain your group health and dental benefits, and you’ll be reinstated to your former position or a comparable one once the leave is over. However, the rules for eligible family members may vary. Therefore, it’s essential to confirm with your employer and the provincial/territorial government your rights and obligations.
How to apply for compassionate care benefits?
It is best to apply for CCBs as soon as you stop working. If you apply after 4 weeks from your last working day, you may lose these benefits. Here are 4 steps to help you complete your application.
Step 1: Gather the necessary information
You’ll need to provide the required documents, which include
Personal information includes the caregiver’s name, date of birth, home address, banking information, etc.
The employment profile will show if you are eligible for CCBs and how much you are paid.
They are confirmed by a doctor or nurse to state that the individual is seriously ill or injured and needs support within a specified time frame. If you submit more than one medical certificate, the first certificate will determine the start and end dates of the 26-week period.
Besides other documents are also required.
Step 2: Complete your online application
It will take you about 1 hour to complete your online application. You can choose to complete the entire application at once or return to it later. But save the temporary password you received when you first started because it is required to access your application again.
Your information will be retained for 72 hours until it is deleted. That’s why you should complete your application during this time.
Step 3: Provide the required documents
After completing the online application, you can submit the required documents via email or at a Service Canada Centre.
Step 4: Wait for a decision
When Service Canada receives your application, they will mail you a statement of benefits accompanied by a 4-digit access code. This code and your social insurance number can help you to follow up on your application. But that doesn’t mean your claim is accepted. Therefore, you should wait for a decision.
When do compassionate care benefits end?
Compassionate Care Benefits are available within a 52-week window, and the eligible claimant has up to 26 weeks of benefits, which are set up in this time window. Payment can be made continuously or intermittently until the end. That is when
- It’s reached the end of the time you can claim.
- 52 weeks have elapsed since the patient was certified as being critically ill or injured or requiring end-of-life care.
- The allowance for eligible claimants is paid.
- It has reached the maximum number of weeks that CCBs can pay for your claim when the benefits are combined with other EI benefits.
- The gravely ill family member recovered or passed away.
What are the benefits of compassionate care leave in Canada?
Compassionate care leave can provide employees in Canada with the time and flexibility they need to care for a seriously ill or dying family member. This can help to ease the burden of caregiving and allow employees to focus on their loved ones during a difficult time.
Is compassionate care leave paid in Canada?
Whether or not compassionate care leave is paid in Canada depends on the employer’s policies. Some employers offer paid leave, while others offer unpaid leave.
What are the tax implications of compassionate care leave in Canada?
The tax implications of compassionate care leave in Canada vary depending on the type of leave and the employer’s policies. For example, paid leave may be taxable, while unpaid leave may not be. You should consult with a tax advisor to determine the tax implications of any compassionate care leave that you take.
How do I apply for compassionate care leave in Canada?
If you need to take compassionate care leave in Canada, you should first check your employer’s policies to see what the requirements are. Once you have determined that you are eligible for leave, you should contact your human resources department to start the application process.