Government of Canada improves sickness benefits under the Employment Insurance system

Government of Canada

News release

November 25, 2022                  Vancouver, British Columbia      Employment and Social Development Canada

Canadians who are facing illness or injury need to feel confident that they are supported and that their jobs are protected as they recover. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to improve Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, visited the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) regional care centre in Vancouver, British Columbia to announce the permanent extension of EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks beginning on December 18, 2022.

Together with Andrea Seale, Chief Executive Officer of the CCS, Minister Qualtrough listened to the stories of those in attendance and discussed how the extension of sickness benefits will help support Canadians facing illness, injury, or quarantine.

The change to EI sickness benefits will provide approximately 169,000 Canadians per year with additional time and flexibility to recover so they can return to work after an illness, injury or quarantine.

Individuals who qualify and establish a new claim on or after December 18, 2022, will be able to receive up to 26 weeks of EI sickness benefits if they are sick and require this time to recover. EI sickness benefits are paid at 55% of the applicant’s average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum entitlement of $638 for 2022.

To align with this change, the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to federally regulated private-sector employees will also be increased from 17 to 27 weeks under the Canada Labour Code. This change will come into effect on the same date as the extension of EI sickness benefits and will ensure that employees have the right to take unpaid job-protected leave while receiving the extended EI sickness benefits.

EI sickness benefits are designed as a short-term income replacement measure and will continue to complement a range of other supports available to Canadian workers for longer-term illnesses and disabilities including the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit, benefits offered through private and employer insurance, as well as supports provided by provinces and territories.

The extension of EI sickness benefits is part of the Government’s broader commitment to reform the EI program. In August 2021, the Government began a two-year consultation on EI reform to build an EI program that is more flexible, fairer and better suited to the needs of today's workers. The Government is currently analyzing the input received from stakeholders during the consultations. Their insights are helping to inform the design and path forward for modernizing the EI program.