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

2. Look at other types of benefits and leaves

There might be other benefits and leaves you can take if you need time off work to care for someone who is seriously ill.

Compassionate care benefits

Up to 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits are available in a one-year period if you need time off work to provide care or support to an ill family member, who has a significant risk of dying.

Care or support means you:

  • give psychological or emotional support to your family member
  • arrange for someone else to care for your family member 
  • provide care or share the work of caring for your family member

This includes a child, extended family members, your spouse's family members, or even a close friend who considers you to be like family. 

Family members can choose to share the 26 weeks of benefits. Each family member must apply for and be eligible for these benefits. It is a good idea to make a schedule of who will be caring for the child and when they will be taking time off work.

You have up to 52 weeks to collect all of the benefits. 

If you are sharing the benefits, this 52-week period is the same for everyone collecting benefits. The start date is based on the first person to file a medical certificate and qualify for benefits. 

Other types of leave

If you're covered by Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), you may be able to take up to 3 days of family responsibility leave.

You may also be able to take a longer leave of absence even if you don't qualify for compassionate care benefits. For example, you may be able to take:

These unpaid leaves are provided by the ESA, not by EI.

Your employer cannot threaten, fire or punish you for planning to take or taking one of these leaves.

The law says that your employer must hold your job for you while you are on one of these leaves. But the ESA does not require your employer to pay you during that time. You should speak to your employer about whether your employer can hold your job for you if you plan to take more time off than the leave allows.

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