Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles
Chapter 24 - Section 17
24.17.0 Benefits for parents of critically ill children (PCIC)
PCIC benefits are offered to parents who are required to be absent from work to provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child. A maximum of 35 weeks may be paid and, as is detailed herein, parents may share the benefits between them.
Critically ill child
The Regulations define a critically ill child as a person who is under the age of 18 on the first day of the period set out by the specialist medical doctor, whose baseline state of health has significantly changed and whose life is at risk as a result of an illness or injury.
PCIC benefits may be paid to eligible claimants who meet the definition of a parent.
The term, parentFootnote 1, is defined as a person who in law:
- is a parent (including an adoptive parent) of the critically ill or injured child;
- has the custody of or, in Quebec, parental authority over the child;
- is the guardian of the child or, in Quebec, the tutor to the person of the child; or
- is a person with whom the child has been placed for the purposes of adoption under the laws governing adoption in the province in which the person resides.
Care and support
Care of a critically ill or injured child is defined as all care that is required because of the child's state of health, other than the care provided by a health care professional.
Support is defined as the psychological or emotional support that is required because of a critically ill or injured child's state of health.
The definition of care or support may also include situations where the claimant simply spends time each day with the critically ill child in the home, a hospice or a medical facility.
24.17.3 Who can receive PCIC benefits?
PCIC benefits under the EI program are provided for the purpose of caring for or providing support to a critically ill or injured child and as such, may be paid to either of the parents, or may be shared between the parents1 to a combined maximum of 35 weeks of benefitsFootnote 2.
24.17.4 Medical certificate required
Claimants must submit a medical certificate signed by a specialist medical doctor licensed to practice medicine in Canada as a specialistFootnote 3.
The specialist medical doctor signing the medical certificate is required to attest that the child is critically ill or injured and requires the care or support of his/her parents, as well as indicate the period during which the child is expected to require care or support.
Specialist medical doctors are not authorized to release medical information about the child without the patient's (child), or by a parent's consent (if the child is incapable of consenting or not allowed by law, by reasons of age, or physical or mental condition). Therefore, an authorization must also be signed by the critically ill child or his/her parent, permitting the specialist medical doctor to release the information to the Commission. This authorization must accompany each medical certificate received for PCIC benefits.
It is recognized that one medical certificate may underestimate the initial time required to care and support a critically ill or injured child and in these circumstances a second (subsequent) signed medical certificate containing the same information as the first, will be required in order to revise the dates during which the child cares care or supportFootnote 4.
24.17.5 More than one critically ill child
If more than one child is critically ill as a result of the same event, only one 52-week window may be established and a maximum 35 weeks of PCIC benefits are payable during that period, or in a benefit period.
If more than one child is critically ill or injured as a result of unrelated events, separate 52-week windows may be established for each of the critically ill children. However, the maximum number of weeks of PCIC benefits payable is 35 per child during the 52-week window. A maximum of 35 weeks of PCIC benefits can be paid during a given benefit period. This means that two parents could each establish a benefit period – the first parent in respect of one child and the second parent in respect of the other child, and be payable a maximum of 35 weeks each.
Two parents may also share the weeks in respect of each child over the two benefit periods, subject to the maximum 35 weeks per child, as well as the maximum 35 weeks per benefit period.
24.17.6 Waiting period
PCIC benefits may be paid to either parent or may be shared between the parents. Like all claims for employment insurance benefits a two-week waiting period must be served before PCIC benefits can be paid under the EI ActFootnote 5.
The waiting period may be waived if, after having ceased work, the claimant received sick leave paid by an employerFootnote 6 or when the claimant works for more than one employer, if he was paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings for the same employer.
Employment Insurance legislation provides that only one waiting period must be served in respect of the same child for PCIC. In situations where the first parent made a claim for benefits, and served the waiting period, it can be deferred for the second parent claiming PCIC benefitsFootnote 7.
However, the deferred waiting period for the second parent would need to be served following receipt of PCIC benefits in situations where other types of benefits such as sickness or compassionate care benefits are subsequently claimed. Furthermore, when parents decide to share the PCIC benefits and apply for benefits at the same time, they may choose which one will serve the waiting period. The other parent may then have the waiting period deferred.
It should be noted that a claimant is only required to serve one waiting period when claiming benefits in respect of one critically ill child. In the event that a second benefit period is required to ensure the claimant can receive all PCIC benefits the legislation allows, the waiting period can be deferred on the second claim.
Waiving the waiting period should not be confused with deferring the waiting period. In the event that the waiting period was waived for the first parent, the second parent would be required to serve the waiting period as a waiting period was not previously served in respect of the same child. The only exception to this would be in a situation where the second parent also received sick leave pay from his/her employer or when the claimant works for more than one employer; if he was paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings for the same employer, the conditions have been met to waive the waiting period.
24.17.7 When PCIC benefits are payable
Benefits are payable within a 52-week window that beginsFootnote 8:
- on the day the first medical certificate is issued; or
- if the claim is made before the certificate is issued, from the date the specialist medical doctor certifies that the child is critically ill or injured.
The 52-week window endsFootnote 9:
- when all benefits have been paid; or
- the 52-week period ends; or
- the child dies.
24.17.8 The number of weeks for which PCIC benefits may be paid
Under the EI program, a qualified claimantFootnote 10 may receive up to 35 weeks of PCIC benefits in a benefit period. Furthermore, the global maximum number of weeks of PCIC benefits paid in respect of the same child cannot exceed 35. As a result, when the parents share these EI benefits, the total number of weeks they can receive between them is 35Footnote 11. A claimant making an application for PCIC benefits will be asked to provide the name and social insurance number of the other parent for cross-reference purposes.
24.17.9 Earnings while in receipt of PCIC benefits
The allowable earnings provision is applicable to PCIC benefitsFootnote 12. A claimant may earn up to 25% of their weekly benefit rate or $50 where the benefit rate is less than $200, without any deduction from benefits. Earnings in excess of the 25% or $50 will be deducted dollar for dollar from any benefits payable. More information on earnings both from self-employment and insured employment with an employer is found elsewhere in this ChapterFootnote 13 and details on the treatment of income from self-employment during an EI claim is found in Chapter 5.16Footnote 14 of the Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles.
Detailed information on the rules currently applicable regarding the deduction of earnings while receiving benefits can be found on the Working while on Claim Pilot Project web page on the Service Canada websiteFootnote 15.
24.17.10 When out of Canada
It is recognized that the critically ill or injured child may not always reside in Canada and the claimant may be required to leave the country to provide the required care or support to the child, wherever he/she resides. In these situations, it is permissible to leave the country for this express purpose. It remains necessary for the claimant to submit a medical certificate completed by a specialist medical doctorFootnote 16.
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