Vol. 148, No. 21 — October 8, 2014
SI/2014-79 October 8, 2014
ECONOMIC ACTION PLAN 2014 ACT, NO. 1
Order Fixing October 12, 2014 as the Day on which Certain Sections of the Act Come into Force
P.C. 2014-973 September 25, 2014
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendations of the Minister of Employment and Social Development and the Minister of Labour, pursuant to section 251 of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, chapter 20 of the Statutes of Canada, 2014, fixes October 12, 2014 as the day on which sections 242 to 248 and 250 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
The Order in Council (the Order) fixes October 12, 2014, as the day on which sections 242 to 248 and 250 of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 come into force.
The objective of the Order is to bring into force amendments to the Employment Insurance Act (EI Act) enhancing the flexibility to access Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits for claimants who fall ill or are injured while in receipt of compassionate care benefits (CCB) or parents of critically ill children (PCIC) benefits.
The Order also brings into force amendments to Part III of the Canada Labour Code (CLC) ensuring that leave provisions contained in the CLC are fully aligned with the associated EI special benefits.
Since the coming into force of certain provisions of the Helping Families in Need Act (HFNA) in March 2013, EI claimants in receipt of parental benefits can interrupt their claim to access sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured, without having to meet the “otherwise available for work” requirement to access sickness benefits. If applicable, claimants could also potentially resume collecting their parental benefits. By making this change, the Government of Canada recognized, effective March 24, 2013, that a sick parent may not be able to take care of and bond with their child, which is the purpose of parental benefits.
CCB and PCIC benefits are of a similar nature to parental benefits in that the claimant receives temporary income support to take care of a vulnerable family member. More specifically, CCB are payable to eligible persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill and at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. PCIC benefits are payable to eligible parents who have to be away from work to provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child under the age of 18.
Considering the difficult circumstances CCB and PCIC benefits claimants face during their claim, the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, amended the EI Act to allow individuals to interrupt their claim for CCB or PCIC benefits to access sickness benefits should they become ill or injured. If applicable, claimants could also potentially resume collecting their CCB or PCIC benefits. This change builds on the flexibility offered to parental benefits claimants through the HFNA, by recognizing that, when a person is sick or injured, he or she may not be able to provide care or support to their gravely ill family member or critically ill child. The change applies to all EI eligible claimants, including self-employed persons who have opted into the EI program.
The Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 also amended Part III of the CLC to allow federally regulated employees to interrupt compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness of a child and leave related to death or disappearance of a child to gain access to sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave.
These amendments ensure that federally regulated employees’ jobs are protected if they wish to interrupt and postpone their compassionate care leave, leave related to critical illness of a child and leave related to death or disappearance of a child to gain access to sick leave or work-related illness and injury leave.
These amendments align the provisions of compassionate care leave and leave related to critically illness under the CLC with CCB and PCIC benefits under the EI Act. They also align the provisions of leave related to death or disappearance of a child under the CLC with the terms and conditions of payments for the federal income support for parents of murdered or missing children grant.
The amendments to the EI Act will strengthen the support provided to Canadians who have to be away from work temporarily to take care of a gravely ill family member or a critically ill child and who themselves become sick or injured. This change is consistent with the recent flexibility granted to parental benefits claimants. In addition, combined with job protection provided through Part III of the CLC, the change will strengthen labour force attachment of workers who often face challenges in balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities, and who may otherwise withdraw from the labour force.
Consequential technical amendments to the Employment Insurance Regulations and Employment Insurance (Fishing) Regulations are required to align the Regulations with the specific amendments made to the EI Act to ensure that all claimants in receipt of CCB or PCIC benefits can benefit from this flexibility. To ensure smooth implementation of the change, the coming into force of the consequential regulatory amendments would be aligned with the EI Act amendments on October 12, 2014.
Approximately 300 claimants per year are expected to benefit from the change, with associated EI program costs estimated at $1.2 million. From a gender perspective, this change is expected to affect more women than men, as they are more likely to be primary caregivers and leave the labour force because of caregiving responsibilities. In addition, women consistently represent about three quarters of all CCB claimants, and it is expected that they will claim the new PCIC benefit in greater proportion than men.
The legislative amendments were debated in Parliament through the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 and no amendments were recommended.
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