I am caring for an adult who is very sick. Can I get EI?

1. Figure out if you qualify for compassionate care benefits

You might be eligible for up to 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits in a one-year period.

To qualify for compassionate care benefits:

  • you need time off work to provide care or support to a family member (or a close friend who considers you to be like family), who is seriously ill and has a significant risk of dying
  • your normal weekly earnings must be reduced by more than 40% because you are providing this care
  • you must have worked enough hours of  during the 

Insurable hours

The total number of hours you worked in your qualifying period is called your “insurable hours”. To qualify for EI compassionate care benefits, you usually need 600 insurable hours.

EI rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of August 9, 2020, the government has reduced the number of insurable hours for compassionate care benefits to 120 hours. This is expected to last for one year.

If family members want to split the 26 weeks of benefits, each family member must have worked the required 120 hours to qualify. One family member cannot qualify on behalf the other.

If you are going to split the 26 weeks with another member of your family, you should discuss how many weeks of benefits each of you will take before applying. Family members can collect benefits at the same time so that you can be off work at the same time.

Qualifying period

Your qualifying period is usually the last 52 weeks before the start of your claim. To figure out your qualifying period, start on the Sunday before your , and then count backwards 52 weeks from there.

Your qualifying period can sometimes be shorter than 52 weeks. For example, if you have been on EI in the past year, your qualifying period will only go back to the start of your last EI claim.

Your qualifying period can be longer than 52 weeks if there were times in the past year when you could not work because, for example, you were sick, injured, pregnant, or in jail and later found not guilty.

If you are self-employed, you can apply for these benefits if you have paid EI premiums for at least 52 weeks. To arrange to pay premiums as a self-employed worker, you can set up an online account at www.servicecanada.ca. Choosing to pay premiums as a self-employed worker is an important decision that usually cannot be changed. It is important to get legal advice about whether paying premiums is the right decision for you.

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