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If you have a family member or friend who needs help caring for themselves, you may decide to become a caregiver for a certain period.

But, doing so will require a significant time commitment, which can eat into your workday. In this case, you may need to take time off work to care for the person, which can impact your finances. With no income being generated, you may need some form of financial assistance to compensate you while you’re off work serving as a caregiver. 

Fortunately, there are government programs known as “compassionate care benefits”. These programs are designed to help caregivers financially while they’re off work helping a family member or friend in need.

Key Points

  • You may be entitled to compassionate care benefits if you’ve had to leave work to care for a loved one who is gravely ill or nearing their end of life. 
  • Depending on your relationship with the person you’re caring for, you may receive benefits for as long as 35 weeks.
  • For 2024, the maximum weekly compassionate care benefit payment is $668.

What Are Compassionate Care Benefits?

Available through Employment Insurance (EI), compassionate care benefits are paid to individuals who step away from work temporarily to care for a family member who is ill and at risk of death within 26 weeks. 

You don’t have to be related to or live with the person in need of care to receive these benefits. However, the person must consider you to be like family.

3 Types Of Compassionate Care Benefits

You can receive benefits during the 52 weeks after the date the individual is deemed critically sick or injured by a medical physician or nurse practitioner. The weeks of benefits can be taken all at once or separately and can be shared by eligible caregivers.

There are 3 types of compassionate care benefits:

  • Family caregiver benefit for children – Covers up to 35 weeks to care for a critically sick or injured person under 18.
  • Family caregiver benefit for adults – Covers up to 15 weeks to care for a critically sick or injured person aged 18 or over.
  • Compassionate care benefits – Covers up to 26 weeks to care for a person of any age who needs end-of-life care.

How Much Can You Get Through The Compassionate Care Benefits?

You will be notified of your payment eligibility once your application has been processed and reviewed. In most cases, the benefit amount is typically 55% of the average insurable weekly income, up to $668 per week for 2024. 

Compassionate Care Benefits Payment Dates

If you are eligible for compassionate care benefits and have supplied all required documents, your first payment will be received approximately 28 days after you apply

There will be a one-week period in which you won’t be paid before you start receiving benefits. This is known as the ‘waiting period.’ If the benefits are shared with another caregiver to care for the same ill or injured individual, only one caregiver will serve the waiting period. 

The compassionate care payment window is for a specific 52-week period. During this you can receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. Payments do not have to be paid consecutively and can be made randomly throughout the benefit period.

Payments will end when one of the following happens:

  • The person being looked after no longer requires care
  • You have been paid for the maximum time that the benefit allows
  • You received the maximum number of weeks of benefits payable to you 
  • You’ve reached 52 weeks since the time the person was certified as requiring care or support
  • You reached the end of your claim period

Who Is Eligible For The Compassionate Care Benefits?

To qualify for compassionate care benefits, the following criteria will need to be met:

  • You are a family member or are considered to be like a family member to the person who requires care.
  • If you’re not a family member, the person requiring care or a legal representative must fill out an attestation form to confirm that you are considered to be like family. 
  • Your weekly earnings have decreased by over 40% for at least one week as a result of taking time away from work to care for the person.
  • You worked 600 insured hours over the 52 weeks before starting your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter.
  • A medical practitioner has certified that the person you are caring for is critically sick or injured or requires end-of-life care.

If you’re unemployed, you must meet additional criteria:

  • You must wait 12 months from the date of your confirmed registration
  • You have earned a minimum amount of earnings throughout the calendar year before the year your claim is submitted.

How Do You Apply For The Compassionate Care Benefits?

To apply for compassionate care benefits, follow these steps:

Step 1. Start Gathering Supporting Documents

Certain documents will need to be provided to Service Canada. This is to prove your employment qualifications and to show that the person you’re caring for needs care. 

Documents required include the following:

  • Your authorization to have a medical certificate released by a health care practitioner
  • Medical certificate that confirms that the person is critically sick or injured and requires care or support from a caregiver
  • Record of Employment (ROE) that provides information about your work history and helps determine your eligibility for you to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Attestation form if you are not related to the individual who requires care or support

Step 2. Gather Your Personal Information

You will need to supply information about yourself and your financial situation, including the following:

  • Names and addresses of all employers over the past 52 weeks
  • Dates you were employed with each employer
  • Why you are no longer employed with your employer(s)
  • Why you quit or were dismissed from any job over the past 52 weeks
  • Your home and mailing address, if they differ
  • Social insurance number (SIN)
  • Last name at birth of one of your parents
  • Information about the person needing care, including their full name, date of birth, and home address
  • Your banking information, including the name of your bank, the branch (transit) number, and your account number

Step 3. Complete The Application Online

Once you stop working, apply for compassionate care benefits right away. Any delay in filing your claim by more than 4 weeks after you stop working can risk you losing any benefits.

The online application is short, but if you are unable to complete the application in one sitting, you can save your information for 72 hours from the time your application starts. You can then come back within 72 hours and access your incomplete application using a temporary password.

If your application is not completed within 72 hours, it will be deleted and you’ll need to start over.  

Step 4. Submit Your Supporting Documents

Once your online application is complete, you can submit your supporting documents to Service Canada by mail or in person at a local Service Canada Centre. 

Step 5. Wait For A Benefit Statement And Access Code To Arrive By Mail

Service Canada will send you a benefit statement through the mail after you’ve completed your application. The statement will include a 4-digit access code that you will need along with your SIN to find out the status of your application. 

Step 6. Review Your Application Status

Check the progress of your application by contacting a representative from Service Canada. Or by logging into your My Service Canada Account (MSCA). If you are not yet registered with MSCA, create an account once you get your benefit statement and access code.

Can Compassionate Care Benefits Be Combined With Other Benefits?

You may be allowed to receive compassionate care benefits while collecting other benefits

For instance, you can get up to 50 weeks of benefits when compassionate care benefits and regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are combined. You can also get up to 71 weeks of benefits when these benefits are combined with maternity or parental benefits. 

Keep in mind that the benefit type could impact the length of your claim period.

Other Programs For Caregivers In Canada

In addition to the compassionate care benefit, caregivers may be eligible for other programs to offset the financial burden of leaving work to care for an injured or sick loved one. Here are a few non-refundable tax credits that are available to eligible caregivers in Canada:

Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC)

The Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) is available to Canadians who pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses for themselves, their spouses, or children. This tax credit can be claimed when you file your income taxes to help reduce your taxable income. 

You can claim up to $2,635 or 3% of your net income, whichever is lower. If you live in Quebec, you can claim 3% of your net income combined with your spouse’s.

Disability Tax Credit (DTC) 

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable credit that allows you to reduce your income tax bill. It is available to those with a disability, or anyone caring for someone with a prolonged mental or physical disability. The base disability amount is $9,428 for those 18 and older, or $14,928 for those 17 and younger.

Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC)

The Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) is a non-refundable tax credit designed to provide financial assistance to those who care for dependents with physical or mental disabilities. The amount you can claim depends on the relationship you have with the individual you’re caring for and their income:

  • For a spouse/common-law partner: Up to $2,499. If their net income is between $8,021 and $26,782, you may also claim up to $7,999 on line 30425.
  • For an eligible dependent 18 and above: Up to $2,499. If their net income is between $8,021 and $26,782, you may also claim up to $7,999 on line 30425.
  • For an eligible dependent under 18: Up to $2,499.
  • For your spouse’s/common-law partner’s children under 18: Up to $2,499 per dependent.
  • For each dependent 18 and above who is not your spouse’s/common-law partner’s: Up to $7,999. 

Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)

The Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC) is a non-refundable credit you can claim to reduce your income tax bill. You may be eligible to claim this credit if you’ve had to make renovations to your home to make it more accessible for yourself or someone in the home with mobility issues. The maximum tax credit amount is currently $3,000 per year.

Final Thoughts

If you need to take off work for a certain time to care for someone who is sick, injured, or in their last days, you don’t have to completely sacrifice your income. With compassionate care benefits, you can be financially compensated while serving as a caregiver.

Compassionate Care Benefits FAQs

Can I receive compassionate care benefits if the person I’m caring for lives outside Canada?

Yes. In this case, you apply and provide supporting documents as you would if the person requiring care lived in Canada. A medical practitioner in the country that the person lives in will need to certify the illness or injury.

How will I receive my compassionate care benefits?

You can receive payment through the mail or via direct deposit.

What’s the maximum amount I can receive through the compassionate care benefits? 

You can receive up to 55% of your earnings with a cap of $668 per week if you’re eligible to receive compassionate care benefits.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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