Starting June 9, 2013, parents who take leave from work to care for their critically ill or injured child are able to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits (PCIC). This new policy allows for eligible parents to receive government EI support for up to 35 weeks. We have broke down the policy to a list of Q & As to deconstruct and simplify the terms of the benefits:
Q: How does Service Canada define ‘care or support’?
A: The ‘care and support’ that a parent needs to give to his/her critically ill or injured child means directly providing or participating in the care, or providing psychological and emotional support to the child.
Q: What does ‘critically ill’ mean?
A: ‘Critically ill’ according to the benefits’ terms define it as a life-threatening illness, acute phases of an illness or injury for which continued parental care or support is needed. There has to be a significant change from the child’s normal or baseline state of health as assessed by a specialist medical doctor.
Q: What is the legal definition of a parent?
A: A parent is, in legal terms, a person who has custody of, or is the guardian of the child, which includes adoptive parents. In Quebec, a parent is one that has parental authority over or is a tutor of the child.
Q: Am I eligible?
A: There are a few terms you have to fulfill to apply for the benefits:
- Your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% because you have to devote time to your child (paper record needed).
- You have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before your claim, or since your last claim.
- Your child is under 18 years of age.
Q: Could self-employed parents apply too?
A: Yes. Self-employed Canadians who have registered to Employment Insurance special benefits for a year could apply if you fulfill the following terms:
- You have reduced the amount of time devoted to your business by more than 40% because you need to care for your critically ill or injured child (paper record needed).
- You have earned a minimum amount of self-employed earnings during the calendar year before you submitted your claim.
- Your child is under 18 years of age.
Q: When should I apply?
A: You should always apply for Employment Insurance benefits as soon as you stop working or experience a sharp decrease in income. If you delay, you could lose benefits since the time you started earning significantly less.
Q: What else do I need for the PCIC Benefits?
A: You have to submit a medical certificate and an Authorization to Release a Medical Certificate form provided online here completed and signed by a specialist medical doctor. This should prove that your child is critically ill or injured and requires your long-term care.
Q: Can I be paid for weeks prior to June 9, 2013, before the PCIC benefits were launched?
A: No, while your child’s illness or injury may have started before the launch, you cannot be paid for weeks prior to that date.
Q: How much will I receive?
A: The basic rate of EI benefits is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings. The maximum yearly insurable earnings amount for the year 2013 is $47,400. After calculations, this means the maximum amount you could receive per week is $501.
Q: How long are the PCIC benefits paid for?
A: Up to 35 weeks.
Q: Are the PCIC benefits for one or both parents?
A: It could be shared between parents, at the same time or separately, to a combined maximum of 35 weeks.
Q: Could I receive benefits for two children who are either critically ill or injured at the same time?
A: No. You cannot receive benefits for two separate children, at the same time. Two parents could only establish a benefit period for one child each and each parent can receive up to 35 weeks of benefits.
Q: What happens when I have to leave Canada to take care of my critically ill or injured child?
A: You may still be eligible. You just need to submit a medical certificate completed by a specialist medical doctor that has been taking care of your child overseas. The certificate would still need to fulfill the Canadian requirements for the application.
Was this Q & A helpful? Do you have any more questions about this new benefits policy? Feel free to leave us your comments below in the comment section!