I am caring for a child who is very sick. Can I get EI?

1. Figure out if you qualify for the family caregiver benefit

You might be eligible for up to 35 weeks of benefits in a one-year period.

To qualify for the family caregiver benefit:

  • you must be a parent, or someone who is like family to the critically ill child, who needs time off work to care for the child
  • 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 your 

Insurable hours

The total number of hours you worked in your qualifying period is called your “insurable hours”. To qualify for the family caregiver benefit for children, you usually need 600 insurable hours.

EI rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of September 26, 2021, the government has reduced the number of insurable hours for the family caregiver benefit to 420 hours. This new minimum amount is for claims started between September 26, 2021, and November 20, 2021.

If caregivers want to split the 35 weeks of benefits, each of them must have worked the required 420 hours of insurable work to qualify. One caregiver cannot qualify on behalf the other.

One parent cannot qualify on behalf the other. Caregivers can even collect benefits at the same time and be off work at the same time. Before you apply, you should discuss how many weeks of benefits each of you will take.

Qualifying period

Your qualifying period is usually the last 52 weeks before you stop working or reduce your hours. 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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