By Bob Nault MP
KENORA – POLITICS – We all know that every Canadian family has different and unique family circumstances. To help address these realities, the Government of Canada recently implemented improvements to the existing Employment Insurance (EI) maternity, parental, and caregiving benefits. The modifications will offer parents and family caregivers who are eligible to receive EI benefits with much more flexibility and easier access. As a government, we believe that we must put families first in order to help them grow and prosper. I’m happy to report the updated benefits are now in effect, so I encourage you to apply.
One of the most significant changes to these programs is that parents who are awaiting the birth of a child are now able to choose the preferred parental benefit that best suits their needs. They can decide to take the standard parental benefit, over a 12 month period, or the newly announced benefit which extends the time a parent can take to care of their child for up to 18 months. With either option, the criteria and conditions for receiving these benefits remain the same.
Adoptive parents have been provided with the same flexibility. They’re able to choose between the standard option of parental benefits as well as the new extended option.
Expectant working mothers can also choose to begin receiving their maternity benefits earlier – up to 12 weeks before their due date. That is a month longer than what was previously allowed. This increased flexibility allows moms-to-be a better ability to take into consideration their health and workplace circumstances before deciding when to begin their maternity leave.
For the first time, immediate and extended family members of children who are critically ill have access to a benefit that was previously only available to parents. This allows no child to be left without the care and support they deserve during a period that no parent ever wants to imagine.
We have also introduced changes to help support Caregivers who provide such an important role in caring for a critically ill or injured adult family member. Caregivers are now eligible to receive a benefit for up to a period of 15 weeks.
To help simplify the family caregiving benefit process, both medical doctors and nurse practitioners have been given the authority to sign medical certificates. This will streamline the application process, making it much easier and less stressful for Caregivers to receive benefits during trying times.
These recent changes illustrate the comprehensive commitments we made to support families. In addition to these EI benefit improvements, the Canada Child Benefit has made a significant difference to families across the country. In the Kenora riding alone, from June 2016 to July 2017, 8,070 payments were made totaling more than $73 million. That works out to an average yearly payment of $9,130 to families.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, this time of year always serves as a reminder of how important family is. I am glad these improvements have been implemented to give all Canadian families the flexibility and support they need, expect and deserve. In my view, there is nothing more important in life than the ability to take care of your family and loved ones.
Bob Nault MP