Harper Government Welcomes Vote on Helping Families in Need Act
The Helping Families in Need Act, introduced on September 20th in the House of Commons by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, was unanimously adopted at second reading and is moving forward to committee study. [quote]The Helping Families in Need Act delivers on the government’s commitment to support hardworking Canadian families when they need it most. This series of changes will help relieve the financial pressure on families during difficult times." - Minister Finley [/quote]
The Helping Families in Need Act includes a new provision under the Employment Insurance (EI) Act that will make parents eligible for sickness benefits should they fall ill during or after collecting parental benefits. This new measure will benefit approximately 6,000 Canadians per year.
The Bill would also implement the new EI benefit for parents of critically ill or injured children and introduces amendments to the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of parents who take a leave of absence to care for a critically ill child.
The Bill also proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code to allow for unpaid leave and to protect the jobs of parents whose child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected Criminal Code offence. These amendments support a new federal income support grant for parents who take a leave of absence to cope with such a situation.
These new measures expand on and complement other government supports for parents:
- Foster parents who have committed to adopting foster children in their care have earlier access to parental benefits.
- Self-employed persons can opt into the EI program to receive maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits.
- Military families have improved access to EI parental benefits: members of the Canadian Forces who are ordered to return to duty while on parental leave or whose parental leave is deferred now have a window of up to 104 weeks following their child’s birth or adoption in which to access part or all of their 35 weeks of EI parental benefits.
- Eligibility for the compassionate care benefit was extended to include additional family members and others considered as “family” by the person who is gravely ill.
- The Government also provides assistance to parents through the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.