The Helping Families in Need Act (Bill C-44) recently came into force to provide new benefits to parents of critically ill or injured children. This legislation allows eligible parents to take an unpaid leave of absence to care for a child by providing them with up to 35 weeks of temporary income support through EI (Employment Insurance) in a 52 week period. The Canada Labour Code was amended to provide unpaid leave to an employee who is entitled to this benefit. This benefit is also available for self employed parents.
The parent must have had 6 consecutive months employment to qualify. A medical specialist has to issue a certificate confirming the child is critically ill and needs one or both parents to care for them. The doctor must set out the time of care needed. The child must be under 18 years of age at the time of the illness.
This new Act would appear to also help parents whose children are injured in car accidents by providing them with income while they are off work to care for their children.
This Act also provides parents up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave when their child has died as a result of a crime provided they have 6 months of continuous employment at the time of their child’s death. Under the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children, parents would be able to receive $350.00 per week for up 35 weeks. Crime is defined as an offence under the Criminal Code. While this benefit was not intended for families of motor vehicle accidents, it may very well be applicable when the at fault driver is charged criminally.