Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo applauded the introduction recently of the Helping Families in Need Act in the House of Commons.
“This legislation will support parents by making them eligible for sickness benefits, should they fall ill while collecting parental benefits. It will also ensure that the Employment Insurance (EI) program remains fair and flexible and helps relieve the financial pressure on families during difficult times,” said McLeod.
The bill would also implement the new EI benefit for parents of critically ill or injured children and introduces amendments to the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of parents who take a leave of absence to care for a critically ill child.
The bill also proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code to allow for unpaid leave and to protect the jobs of parents whose child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected Criminal Code offence. These amendments allow for a new federal income support grant for parents who take a leave of absence to cope with such a situation.
These new measures expand on and complement other government supports for parents, including:
* Foster parents adopting foster children in their care have earlier access to parental benefits.
* Self-employed persons can opt into the EI program to receive maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits.
* Military families have improved access to EI parental benefits: members of the Canadian Forces who are ordered to return to duty while on parental leave or whose parental leave is deferred now have a window of up to 104 weeks following their child’s birth or adoption in which to access part or all of their 35 weeks of EI parental benefits.
* Eligibility for the compassionate care benefit was extended to include additional family members and others considered as “family” by the person who is gravely ill.
* The government also provides assistance to parents through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.
“This legislation will offer new support measures to families at times when they need it most. These targeted, common-sense changes to the EI program will support hardworking Canadian families,” concluded McLeod.