Compassionate Care Benefits

Employment Insurance (EI) frequently asked questions

Other FAQ for employers available...

1. What are compassionate care benefits?

Helping Canadians find a balance between the workplace and family is a priority for the Government of Canada. To this effect, compassionate care benefits are paid to persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

2. What do I need to qualify?

To be eligible for compassionate care benefits, you must apply and show that:

  • your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40%; and
  • you have accumulated 600 insured hours in the last 52 weeks. This period is called the qualifying period.

If you are a fisher, you will have to have accumulated an amount of $3,760 or more during your qualifying period.

3. How long can I receive compassionate care benefits?

You can receive compassionate care benefits up to a maximum of 26 weeks within the 52-week period that starts with the earlier of:

  • the week the doctor signs the medical certificate, or
  • the week the doctor examine the gravely ill family member at risk of dying,
  • the week the family member became gravely ill and at risk of dying, if the doctor can determine that date, for example, the date of the test results, or

The benefits end when:

  • 26 weeks compassionate care benefits have been paid, or
  • the gravely ill family member dies or no longer requires care or support, benefits are paid to the end of the week, or
  • the 52-week period has expired, or
  • you have collected the maximum entitlement on your claim by combining other types of benefits on the same claim.

4. Why is the maximum length of compassionate care benefits limited to 26 weeks?

Several factors were considered, including medical evidence, best practices in the public and private sectors, and the fact that the majority of Canadians who take time off work to care for a gravely ill family member take 26 weeks or less.

The Government will monitor the new benefits to ensure that they remain responsive to the needs of Canadians.

5. Can I share compassionate care benefits with other members of my family?

Yes. You can share the 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits with other members of your family who must also apply and qualify for these benefits.

6. Who is considered a family member under compassionate care benefits?

You will be able to receive compassionate care benefits to provide care or support for one of the following family member:

Note: Common-law partner means a person who has been living in a conjugal relationship with that person for at least a year.

Family Members
You can receive compassionate care benefits to care for your: Or to care for the following family members of your spouse or common-law partner
Child Child
Wife/husband or common-law partner  
Father or mother Father or mother either married or common-law
Father's wife or mother's husband  
The common-law partner of your father or mother  
Brothers or sisters and stepbrothers and stepsisters Brothers or sisters and stepbrothers and stepsisters
Grandparents and step grandparents Grandparents
Grandchildren and their spouse or common-law partner Grandchildren
Son-in-law and daughter-in-law, either married or common-law Son-in-law and daughter-in-law, either married or common-law
Father-in-law and mother-in-law, either married or common-law  
Brother-in-law and sister-in-law, either married or common-law  
Uncle and aunt and their spouse or common-law partner Uncle and aunt
Nephew and niece and their spouse or common-law partner Nephew and niece
Current or former foster parents Current or former foster parents
Current or former foster children and their spouse or common-law partner  
Current or former wards Current or former wards
Current or former guardians or tutors and their spouse or common-law partner  

7. What does "care or support" mean?

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.

8. Do I need to provide a medical proof when I apply for compassionate care benefits?

Yes. As proof, two forms must be provided:

  • The "Authorization to Release a Medical Certificate" is completed and signed by the gravely ill person or their legal representative, and
  • The "Medical certificate for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits" is completed and signed by the medical doctor of the gravely ill person to confirm their significant risk of death within the 26 weeks.

These two forms must be submitted at the same time.

Only one medical certificate is required per gravely ill family member within the 52-week period whether one person claims the total of 26 weeks of benefits or they are shared.

Please note that the fees requested by the doctor are entirely at your own expense

9. Do I need to serve a two-week waiting period?

A two-week waiting period needs to be served before you can receive compassionate care benefits. When these benefits are shared, only the first family member claiming these benefits will serve the waiting period. However, if the first family member claiming these benefits has already served a waiting period for a reason other than compassionate care benefits, the second family member claiming these benefits will have to serve the waiting period. In addition, in the event the other family members subsequently claim regular, sickness or maternity benefits, the 2-week waiting period would then have to be served before those types of benefits could be paid.

To know more on the two-week waiting period.

10. Do I have to fill out reports during compassionate care benefits?

No, but you must sign a declaration of exemption at the time of applying.

11. Can I work while receiving compassionate care benefits?

Yes. If you work while on compassionate care benefits you can earn $50 per week or 25% of your weekly benefits, whichever is higher. Any monies earned above that amount will be deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.

However, until August 6, 2016, a Working While on Claim pilot project is in place which changes the way your weekly EI parental benefits are treated should you work.

Under this pilot project, once you have served the waiting period, claimants are able to keep 50 cents of their benefits for every dollar they earn while on claim, up to 90 per cent of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate the EI benefit amount.

12. Can I receive compassionate care benefits to care for a family member who has a disability or suffers from a chronic disease or long-term illness?

No. However, if this family member is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks, you can claim compassionate care benefits

13. Can I receive compassionate care benefits if the gravely ill family member whom I am helping lives outside Canada?

Yes. Compassionate care benefits can be paid to allow you to provide care or support to a gravely ill family member with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks, no matter where that family member lives. You have to apply for benefits and submit the same information/documents as required if that gravely ill person were in Canada.

14. Do I need to inform Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) if the gravely ill family member dies while I'm receiving compassionate care benefits?

Yes. Should the gravely ill family member die while you are collecting compassionate care benefits, you must let us know immediately to prevent unnecessary EI overpayments. In that case, call our Telephone information service at 1 800 206-7218 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and press "0" to speak to a representative or go to your Service Canada Centre. Benefits are paid to the end of the week in which the gravely ill family member dies.