The federal government is extending employment insurance sickness benefits. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough announced the extension from 15 to to 26 weeks at the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) regional care centre in Vancouver on Friday.
Officials said the change to EI sickness benefits will provide approximately 169,000 Canadians per year with additional time and flexibility to recover so they can return to work after an illness, injury or quarantine.
Individuals who qualify and establish a new claim on or after December 18, 2022, will benefit from the extension. EI sickness benefits are paid at 55% of the applicant’s average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum entitlement of $638 for 2022.
To align with this change, the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to federally regulated private-sector employees will also be increased from 17 to 27 weeks under the Canada Labour Code. This change will come into effect on the same date as the extension of EI sickness benefits and will ensure that employees have the right to take unpaid job-protected leave while receiving the extended EI sickness benefits.
EI sickness benefits are designed as a short-term income replacement measure and will continue to complement a range of other supports available to Canadian workers for longer-term illnesses and disabilities including the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit, benefits offered through private and employer insurance, as well as supports provided by provinces and territories.