A core focus for our government since our election in 2006 is providing support to Canadians when they need it the most.
That is why our government is enhancing compassionate care benefits in the 2015 balanced budget. Compassionate care benefits, provided through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, is available to individuals temporarily away from work to care for a sick family member with a significant risk of death.
Effective January 3, 2016, Canadians will have access to an enhanced compassionate care benefit which will allow claimants to collect up to 26 weeks of benefits, up from the current 6 weeks. The benefits can also be taken within an expanded period of 52 weeks (up from 26 weeks) and can be shared between family members.
This will require an investment of up to an additional $37 million annually and reaffirms the government’s commitment to helping families receive the support they need as they care for loved ones at end-of-life.This is only one example of what the government is doing to help Canadian families at this difficult time in their lives.
Since March 24, 2013, the Helping Families in Need Act has allowed parents to suspend the payment of their EI parental benefits if they become ill or are injured, to collect EI sickness benefits and to resume collecting the balance of their parental benefits thereafter, if needed. In 2014, the government allowed the same flexibility to claimants in receipt of EI compassionate care benefits or EI benefits for parents of critically ill children.
Understanding the role palliative care also plays at these times in the lives of families, between 2006 and 2013, the federal government invested more than $43 million in palliative care research through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
In addition, in 2011 and in 2013, the government committed $3 million to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association for the development of community-integrated palliative care models and $3 million to the Pallium Foundation of Canada for palliative care training to front-line healthcare providers, respectively.
Budget 2015 includes a further $14 million over two years to support the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. One of the Foundation’s priorities for the funding will be evaluating and disseminating data about best practices in palliative care services.
As noted by our federal health minister Rona Ambrose, our government understands the difficult challenges faced by Canadian families when they are caring for loved ones who have fallen seriously ill and that is why the government continues to work with provinces, territories, and stakeholders to continue to help make improvements in end-of-life care and help meet the future care preferences of Canadians.
To all those including family members, care professionals and volunteers in Kelowna-Lake Country who are helping others at this critical time in their lives, thank you. You are providing much-needed support at a difficult time and it is the most meaningful thing you can do for someone you care about.