Caring for a family member with a terminal illness, progressive medical condition, life-threatening injury or coming to the end of life, may be one of the difficult and the most meaningful times of your life. It can be helpful to have time off from your paid work so that you focus more on providing care and support during this defining time. In Canada, you may be eligible for the Compassionate Care Benefits program through the Employment Insurance (EI) program. Learn more about this program, including eligibility criteria and how to apply for these compassionate care benefits.
The Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) program
The Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) entitles eligible Canadian caregivers up to twenty-six (26) weeks, within a 52-week period of paid leave from work, in order to take care of a terminally-ill family member. This means that you don’t have to take all 26 weeks at once, which is a valuable flexibility.
Terminal illness is defined as someone who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
Definition of a family member
An eligible family member is considered to be a relative in your immediate or extended marital or common-law family. Service Canada’s definition of a family member is broad enough to include your in-laws, step-family members, and, in extreme cases, a close friend or neighbour.
Providing care of support
Providing care or support includes providing psychological or emotional support, arranging for care by a third party, or directly providing or participating in the care.
CCB eligibility criteria
Because Compassionate Care Benefits are administered by Employment Insurance (EI), you need to be able to show in your online CCB form application, that:
- you are experiencing more than a 40% decrease in your regular weekly earnings because of your caregiving duties, and
- you have worked in excess of 600 hours in the last 52 weeks (or since the start of a previous claim).
Share these CCB benefits with other family members
You can receive the maximum of 26 weeks yourself or you can share compassionate care benefits with other members of your family (they must also apply and qualify for these benefits).
If you are self-employed, you can apply for these benefits if you have paid EI premiums for at least 52 weeks.
In order to prove that your family member is terminally ill, he or she must fill out and sign the Authorization to Release a Medical Certificate form. In addition, your family member’s medical doctor must complete and sign the Medical Certificate for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits form, signifying that the person you’re taking care of is at significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
Thanks to the Compassionate Care Benefits program, you can devote time and presence to providing end-of-life care for a family member and have your job and income protected. I have been down this road myself. Doing everything possible to remove distractions from being able to be fully present for my Mom was one of the wisest moves I have ever made in my life.
Bookmark this page in case you’re ever faced with this difficult situation.