ARCHIVED — Vol. 147, No. 6 — March 13, 2013

Registration

SI/2013-23 March 13, 2013

HELPING FAMILIES IN NEED ACT

Order Fixing March 24, 2013 as the Day on which Certain Sections of the Act Come into Force

P.C. 2013-171 February 28, 2013

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, pursuant to subsection 37(5) of the Helping Families in Need Act, chapter 27 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012, fixes March 24, 2013 as the day on which sections 15, 16 and 21 of that Act come into force.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

Proposal

To fix March 24, 2013, as the day on which sections 15, 16 and 21 of the Helping Families in Need Act come into force.

Objective

To bring into force amendments to the Employment Insurance Act (EI Act) which will provide enhanced access to employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits for claimants who fall ill or are injured while receiving EI parental benefits.

Background

Employment insurance sickness, maternity, parental and compassionate care benefits (special benefits) play an important role in supporting workers and their families. In addition to 15 weeks of maternity benefits that are payable to birth mothers, up to 35 weeks of parental benefits can be shared by parents for caring for a newborn, or a newly adopted child or children.

The EI Act also provides sickness benefits to claimants who demonstrate that they are unable to work because of a prescribed illness, injury or quarantine. To receive sickness benefits, insured persons must also show that, but for their illness or injury, they would be “otherwise available for work.” Self-employed persons must “otherwise be working” and have ceased working because of their illness or injury. As a result, claimants in receipt of EI parental benefits are not considered to be available for work and do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

Sections 15 and 21 of the Helping Families in Need Act amend the EI Act to allow insured persons and self-employed persons to qualify for EI sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured while in receipt of EI parental benefits, despite not being available for work.

In addition, section 16 of the Helping Families in Need Act amends the EI Act to ensure that, regardless of the reason a claimant stopped working, if he or she is collecting sickness benefits, any other compensation received as a result of that illness is deducted from EI benefits.

Implications

By bringing into force these amendments to the EI Act, and by consequence, the related amendments to the Employment Insurance Regulations and Employment Insurance (Fishing) Regulations (EI Fishing Regulations), claimants in receipt of EI parental benefits will be eligible for EI sickness benefits should they fall ill or are injured. These amendments enhance the flexibility of EI special benefits and ensure responsiveness of the EI program.

The EI Fishing Regulations must be tabled in the House of Commons for 10 sitting days before coming into force. If the EI Fishing Regulations have not been tabled for the required 10 sittings days prior to March 24, 2013, then the amendments to the EI Fishing Regulations will not come into force on March 24, 2013, but will come into force on the first Sunday following the 10th sitting day.

Approximately 6 000 claimants per year are expected to benefit from the changes to the EI Act and related regulations, at an estimated $5,000 in EI benefits paid per claimant, on average. From a gender perspective, the initiative could be important to women, who make up 90% of the population expected to benefit.

Departmental contact

Jean-François Roussy
Director
Self-Employed, Special Benefits and Horizontal Policy
Employment Insurance Policy
Skills and Employment Branch
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0J9
Telephone: 819-956-3717
Fax: 819-934-6631
Email: jeanfrancois.roussy@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca