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Broadening access to benefits and leaves

over 3 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Caregiver and Older Woman in a health-care environment

Should anyone who needs to take time off work to provide care to a family member with a serious illness or injury and significant care needs (20 or more hours of care per week) be eligible for EI caregiving benefits and job-protected leave under the Canada Labour Code (if they work in a federally regulated enterprise), or should these benefits be provided to those caring for someone with a life-threatening condition and a sudden need for care?

Alternatively, should some other criteria be used to broaden access to caregiving benefits and leaves?

Please share your views and experience.



Consultation has concluded

  • PPH over 3 years ago
    Work life balance is essential to the physical and mental well-being of workers. And workers, who are also caregivers, should not be placed in the unenviable position of choosing between caring for their loved ones and financial insecurity. The caregiver leave provisions need to expand beyond end-of-life care. Individuals are living longer with many dealing with chronic conditions (e.g., Alzheimer’s, mental illness) that impact their ability to navigate daily living long before end-of-life is a reality. Caregivers are expected to carry the burden of their loved ones care, potentially for years. For the sake of the mental and physical health of the caregivers (workers), there needs to be financially-supported opportunities for them to get a break from the competing demands of work and caregiver responsibilities. Unless the health care system steps up to provide that respite support, the employment system will need to carry that burden.- Peterborough Public Health
  • Danielle over 3 years ago
    Careful consideration should be taken to explore all forms for improvement to Canadian caregiver benefits and leaves. Instead of Employment Insurance, consider providing a monetary benefit for caregivers in the form of a grant/contribution, to parents who care for disabled children. While the RDSP is a great vehicle to save for a child's future (especially children who are intellectually disabled and may not ever be able to live independently), there is an evident lack of immediate monetary support for caregivers of intellectually disabled children. Children who are born with a mental disability may never work therefor will never be able to apply for social benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit since they were born disabled. Another consideration is that parents of disabled children have LOTS of medical appointments, especially children with rare diseases who often remain undiagnosed for years. These parents try to keep a steady job and must request leave without pay for these re-occuring appointments. Any laws which obligate the employer to provide leave to these employees without fear of dismissal will alleviate some of the stress. When exploring the expansion and inclusion of caregiving benefits and leaves, please consider parents of children with intellectual disabilities who must continuously care for their children. I encourage the government to interview them and understand their realities in all parts of Canada. They deserve all of our support.
  • Angele over 3 years ago
    What about the parents of children with special needs that require extensive care or therapies. They should definitely be able to get EI benefits to care for their children even if they are not seriously ill. Many significant disabilities require a great amount of care and also a great amount of money to be able to access services for these children since very little is provided. As a mother to a child with a rare genetic disorder , epilepsy, ataxia, apraxia of speech, sensory processing disorder and intellectual disabilities I find this extremely frustrating that we are left to loose our jobs if we require too much time off to care for our children or attend appointments. This is already extremely stressful and then we need to add the added stress of potentially loosing our jobs and or not getting any money if we need to take more than the usual amount of time to care for our children. This definitely needs to change.
  • Sarah994 over 3 years ago
    If the individual is paying taxes then the individual should be allowed to take a leave from work. It is possible that this be made available on a sliding scale, dependent up on the need (chronic condition versus palliative).
  • melissa over 3 years ago
    As a daughter with a mother battling cancer and having to go through treatments having nothing to go to is a concern. For the last 8 months I have been battling EI to get some kind of compensation but all I keep getting from them is that I can hire someone to care for my mother and that I don't qualify for any compassion care because she may not die. Which is the wrong answer in my books. We in society don't wish any sickness on anyone but it is our jobs as daughters mothers fathers to step up and care for our loved ones without the hassle of worring where we will get money from. EI (service Canada) need to change the way they operate when other provinces have what BC doesn't and it is sad
    Hide Replies (2)
    • rjpatenaude over 3 years ago
      Sad the government would rather you work than take care of a loved one. If your not in the systems gravy train you are left hanging with no support.
    • WorkingMom over 3 years ago
      It is very sad that the Government will assist in paying a stranger to help your mother rather than assist a family member to care for their loved one!
  • WorkingMom over 3 years ago
    Anyone who needs to take time off work to provide care to a family member with a serious illness or injury and significant care needs (20 or more hours of care per week) should be eligible for EI caregiving benefits and job-protected leave under the Canada Labour Code.
  • Christine over 3 years ago
    We shouldn't have to choose between the two benefits. Families need different types of care during different times in their lives. EI benefits should be available to both a caregiver who needs to take care of a family member with a serious illness or injury and a family member who is caring for someone with a life threatening condition.
  • gw17 over 3 years ago
    Early Onset DementiaThe existing criteria are particularly unfair to caregivers for early onset dementia patients. Very often this disease hits a person at the peak of their earnings between 40 and 60 but it can happen earlier or later. The decline can be very rapid meaning that a person who was fully self reliant, and often the the major breadwinner, becomes totally dependent on caregiver(s) within a year or two of onset of symptoms. Frequently the person will have been let go from their job for cause before a diagnosis is made resulting in sudden loss of income for what will turn out to be an illness, not incompetence. Although it is a terminal illness, there is no way to tell how long the person will live and it would be rare to have a doctor certify that death would occur within 1 year so the existing criteria do not work to allow benefits.In many cases there are children at home requiring long term emotional physical and logistical support. The EI system needs to be modified to allow flexibility to provide EXTENDED income support to working people who have to become caregivers out of love and compassion and who then face extraordinary challenges financially, emotionally, socially and in many cases become physically or mentally ill themselves because on the impact of illnesses like Dementia.Canada is a country that prides itself on helping those who need help. Here is an opportunity to change the system to provide help to some of those who are really struggling.
  • TimDeelstra over 3 years ago
    I don't believe this should be an either/or choice. There is a need for both and I think this can be accomplished.
  • kodiak2016 over 3 years ago
    My son survived a suicide attempt, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and returned home after two months in the hospital. I had to quit my job to provide 24 hour supervision as he is at high risk for a negative outcome. Because he had recently turned 18, I did not qualify for parental benefits . I also did not qualify for end of life caregiver benefits, even though he does not have a good prognosis. I did quit my job and it has caused undo hardship on my already stressed family. Something needs to change in the near future regarding benefits for parents or other family caring for the seriously mentally ill. No one can care for my son the way I can, and sometimes it is a lifelong situation, not limited to 12 or 15 weeks.
  • Tina Edmunds-Norman over 3 years ago
    Nothing is more important than family. When a loved one is hospitalized or seriously ill we need to be by their side, providing assistance and support. If your loved one is in the hospital it is necessary to be there to ensure that medication is provided, that food and water is available, that they are toileted in a timely fashion, to ensure that their overall needs are being met. If a family member is not there, these needs are not met in a timely fashion or not met at all. I've learned this from 1st hand experience when my mother had major surgery. When a family member is in palliative care the best thing you can do is be there to help them, to give them your time, care & atttention. It is so intensely stressful that it is next to impossible to focus on work, family & your loved one. We shouldn't be financially penalized by our employer for being where we need to be, with our family. Please take the financial stress from our families & allow us to be where we need to be, with your loved ones in need. Thank you.
  • Pam Orzeck over 3 years ago
    I'm not sure why there is a question of one or the other. Since caregivers are THE backbone of our health care system, why can't we properly support them with adequate support and respite, services for their loved ones and themselves and access to a responsive and dynamic health care system.
  • Jmsmith11 over 3 years ago
    As a parent of a child.with severe cerebral palsy it has been a challenge to say the least on trying to find appropriate help to care for my child. I know and my therapists know that I am the best person to care for my child. She also can not go to daycare. I am the best person to help my child be a part of society rather than a burden on society. Though because we are considered upper middle class we receive little support from the government. My biggest problem with this is that we contribute to society and are responsible enough to have good paying jobs and get little support. Our bills are higher then low income families. I should not have to give up my home because now I have to stay home to raise my unexpected high needs child. So I now have less income, same cost of living, plus the high costs of raising a child with high needs properly. If families would have proper support to help their children become the best they can then intern it will save the government money once these children are adults. So yes EI should be available to parents trying to raise children of special needs. I personally spend 40-60 hrs per week doing therapy with my child trying to optimize her abilities. The early years are the most important for these kids.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Kim willox over 3 years ago
      In addition to above comment parents off special needs children have to purchase specialty equipment, expensive wheelchairs, walkers, standing apparatus, special vehicles to accommodate social equipment and ongoing house renovations. All this if you make over a certain income, with little help from the government which means more debt because you are already up to your eyeballs with all the other bills you have.
    • cpmom over 3 years ago
      I too am mother to young child with CP and the financial burden of this has been difficult. I had to take low-paying jobs that involved shift work so I'd be able to go to all the appointments my child needed. Therapy multiple times per week plus medical appointments. I couldn't afford someone else taking care of my son to do this with them so I could be at work. Also, specialized nursery schools where I live were only in the morning which worked out to just over 2 hours. Just enough time for my child to socialize and I could get a coffee or do a few errands. I only got relief when he was 4 and could attend full-day kindergarten. When maternity leave benefits run out, what am I supposed to do for the other three years? Huge gap and community care options are not at all acceptable. Even if one parent has good income and is able to work (I didn't have that) the financial burden is great and having a income cut-off doesn't reflect true costs. Parents of young children with disabilities need far greater support. As previous commenter said it will help in long term.
  • Andy over 3 years ago
    Should not have to choose! My parent was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had Open Heart Surgery. As she was not going to die, EI is not an option. As an only child with no family support close enough for additional support. When diagnosed my parent stayed home, did nothing to exert themselves and I left for work saying "do nothing if you feel something call 911" while we awaited surgery date. I took time off from the day before surgery, I was allowed one day pay [for the surgery day], took vacation time and then leave without pay. Exhausted what savings I had, had to purchase some medical equipment to ensure home was safe when returning from the hospital. Not to mention medications, and medical supplies to deal with a secondary infection. This was exacerbated when tax time rolled round and everything I purchased did not qualify to be included for calculating as medical tax credits.
  • mark1979 over 3 years ago
    I agree with an earlier comment that we shouldn't have to choose between these two situations. Everyone's situation is different but no less important for them to access some type of leave.
  • Debora1 over 3 years ago
    We shouldn’t have to choose between these two benefits. Families need different types of care during different times in their lives. EI benefits should be available to BOTH a care giver who needs to take care of a family member with a serious illness or injury AND a family member who is caring for someone with a life-threatening condition.
    Hide reply (1)
    • rjpatenaude over 3 years ago
      I agree both these benefits would provide support for different situations.Example 1 car accident victim may need from 6 to 12 weeks care to recover.Example 2 ALS victim months to five years until this horrible disease wins.
  • Cwatson over 3 years ago
    It is important that Canadians, who need to take a leave from work to care for a family member with cancer, have the ability to concentrate on supporting their loved ones instead of worrying about losing their jobs and the financial impact of being a caregiver. I would like to see progress toward a paid leave not just job protected leave.
  • DragonMom over 3 years ago
    Reasonable income replacement and job protection for parents of children with complex medical needs. My daughter was born with a rare disease and she spent the first 10 months of her life in hospital fighting for her life. We brought her home because we were told that it was a matter of days or weeks before she would pass away. She was not supposed to live past a few months of age. She is going on 5 in December. When my mat leave was up I had to return to work - leaving my daughter in the care of someone else despite her medical fragility and unstable condition because there was no way that our family of 5 could depend on one income especially when my husband's job is weather dependent. There are no financial supports in place to help a parent stay home and care for medically fragile, complex care needs children. With the constant stress of caring for a complex needs child who's life expectancy is already surpassed and all this entails (50+ appointments per year with doctors, social workers, PT, OT, etc.), keeping on top of medication orders and medical supply orders, lack of restorative sleep because your child has to sleep in your bed or room because they rely on a ventilator to support their breathing, parenting siblings, maintaining a home, trying to find time for yourself and couple time all the while working full-time...something has to give and if it is my health or the health of my spouse...what will happen to my daughter? Who will care for her??? We need income support and job protection. It would cost the government far more if my daughter had to be hospitalized in a monitored room 24/7 for the rest of her life.
  • rjpatenaude over 3 years ago
    Provide support for the caregivers that were already providing full time care for terminally ill, when this benefit came into effect January 2016.I started officially caring for my wife in March 2015 but it stated long before then.June 2015 we were forced to take the 6 week CCB benefit. January 3 2016 the new 26 week CCB is announced with promises of easier access.I have been begging for this benefit for over one year with nothing but denials and un compassionate cut and paste form letters from Service Canada and the Honorable Mrs. Mihychuk 's office.It is impossible to accumulate 600 insurable hours while providing 24/7 care for an ALS victim.Agree if you think The 600 hour requirement should be waived for caregivers still caring for a loved one into 2016. I feel we are being cheated out of 20 weeks worth of benefits over the stroke of a pen.
    Hide reply (1)
    • rjpatenaude over 3 years ago
      See Joany's Journey with ALS on Facebook if your interested.
  • gilhuisj over 3 years ago
    My husband and I have 2 children with Sanfilippo Syndrome ages 8 and 9 yrs life expectancy is between 10 and 15 yrs. I work full time for the Department of Indigenous Affairs. We also had a child who passed away in 2011 with this disease at age 13. Upon reflection of our end of life experience with our daughter, I would like to spend time with especially our daughter who is 9 yrs old as we have been told that in addition to her disease she has an enlarged heart and can expect her to pass away earlier than the expected average life span of a child with Sanfilippo Syndrome.
  • DanLin over 3 years ago
    Please consider providing financial support for a period of time to parents who have lost an infant to SIDS or Undetermined cause.