Eldercare/CA PrimePlus Services
Compassionate Care EI Benefits

By Anne Chun, C.A., CFP

This is part of the Eldercare/CA PrimePlus Services* series of articles.

In addition to the Caregiver amount tax credit (discussed in a separate article), there is a new benefit available for those who are caring for a gravely ill family member.

Starting on January 4, 2004, you may be able to take time off work and receive up to six weeks of employment insurance benefits. While you are away, your job will be protected. This is called Compassionate Care Benefit under the Employment Insurance Act.

To qualify, you must apply to the Human Resources Development of Canada (HRDC) office and provide medical proof that the ill family member requires support or care and is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. A medical certificate called “Medical certificate for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits” must be completed and signed by a medical doctor or other medical practitioner authorized to treat the gravely ill family member. You should request a Record of Employment (ROE) from your employer, or provide proof of employment (such as T-4, or pay stubs). You must also show that your regular weekly earnings from work have been reduced by more than 40% and you have accumulated 600 insured hours in the last 52 weeks or since the beginning of your last claim.

This benefit can be shared with other eligible caregivers who must also apply. The number of weeks you will share with other members of your family should be decided and agreed amongst each family member at the time you apply. The first person to receive the Compassionate Care Benefit (CC Benefit) will serve a 2-week waiting period. Under certain circumstances, the 2-week waiting period may be waived or deferred.

Family members include:

  • Your child or the child of your spouse or common-law partner.
  • Your husband/wife or common-law partner.
  • Your mother/father.
  • Your mother’s husband or your father’s wife.
  • The common-law partner of your mother/father.

Care or support to a family member means:

  • Providing psychological or emotional support, or
  • Arranging for care by a third party, or
  • Directly providing or participating in the care.

The basic CC Benefits is 55% of your average insured earnings. The maximum is $413 per week. Your EI payment is taxable income. You could receive a higher benefit rate if you are in a low-income family (income of less than $25,921) with children and you or your spouse receives the Canada Child Tax Benefit, you are entitled to the Family Supplement. When CC Benefits are combined with maternity, parental and sickness benefits, you can receive up to a combined maximum of 71 weeks. Certain conditions apply.

When you file your tax return, you will not have to repay any of the CC Benefits. However, if you received CC Benefit and regular benefits within the same taxation year, you may be required to repay some or all of the regular benefits.

*CA PrimePlus Services is a registered trademark of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. Eldercare/CA PrimePlus Services is a customizable range of financial management services for elderly and disabled persons.

Anne Chun, C.A. CFP is the principal of Anne Chun Professional Corporation, providing financial, tax, estate and Eldercare services. She is also the co-author of "Planning your Financial Future".