Feds plan to give bereaved families extended EI benefits

(QMI Agency, file)

(QMI Agency, file)

Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 3:30 PM ET

OTTAWA - The government plans to give families caring for sick children extended access to their own Employment Insurance contributions, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced Thursday.

"We are improving the EI program to make it more flexible for Canadians by adding benefits for parents who need to take time away from work and focus on their child who is critically ill or injured," she said.

Finley tabled the Helping Families in Need Act, proposing to allow parents of seriously sick or injured children to qualify for sick leave as well as extending EI benefits to them for up to a 52-week period. If passed, the bill would take effect next June.

It also proposes to allow unpaid leave for parents of children missing or dead as a result of a Criminal Code offence, without fear of losing their jobs.

Labour lawyer Robert Monti said he supports the bill in theory, but wondered why the changes won't come into effect until next year.

NDP Human Resources critic Chris Charlton says while she supports helping bereaved families, neither Finley nor the government should take credit.

"The bottom line is, it's workers and employers who contribute to EI, not the government. So stop taking credit for giving them their own money back," she said. "Why is this support coming from EI? Because the government is not willing to invest in those programs on its own."


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