Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report 2013/14
Chapter 2 - IV. Employment Insurance Special BenefitsFootnote 112

7

1. Overview and Legislative Changes

In addition to assisting those who are unemployed, Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits provide temporary income support to workers and self-employed individuals including fishers. The benefits play an important role in supporting them to balance work and family responsibilities.

In particular, EI special benefits assist workers and self-employed individuals who are too sick to work, are pregnant or have recently given birth, are providing care to a newborn or newly adopted child, or who take temporary leave from work to provide care or support to a critically ill child or a family member with a serious medical condition or with a significant risk of death.

The qualification requirements for EI special benefits do not vary across EI economic regions. In order to qualify for EI special benefits, insured claimants require 600 insurable hours in the 52-week period preceding their claim. Self-employed individuals are required to opt in at least one full year prior to claiming EI special benefits and must have paid EI premiums and earned a minimum amount in self-employment earnings during the previous taxation year (e.g. $6,645 earned in 2014 for claims in 2015). Self-employed fishers can also qualify for special benefits with fishing earnings of $3,760.

On December 14, 2012, the Helping Families in Need Act received Royal Assent, creating a new EI special benefit for parents of critically ill children (PCIC). Under the PCIC benefits, up to 35 weeks of temporary income support is available, which can be shared among eligible parents who take time away from work while providing care or support to one or more children under the age of 18 with a life-threatening illness or injury. In order to qualify for the PCIC benefits, a claimant needs to provide a medical certificate attesting that the child is critically ill or injured.

The Helping Families in Need Act also amended the Employment Insurance Act to allow insured persons who fall ill or are injured while receiving EI parental benefits to access EI sickness benefits. This new measure came into force on March 24, 2013. In addition, through changes to the Employment Insurance Act that were included in the 2014 Federal Budget, effective October 12, 2014, claimants receiving compassionate care benefits or PCIC benefits also have access to sickness benefits should they fall ill or be injured while receiving benefits.

The following sections do not include data or analysis on maternity and parental benefits in Quebec, for either employees or self-employed individuals, as these benefits are offered under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). However, data on sickness compassionate care and parents of critically ill children benefits in Quebec are included in their respective sections.

1.1 Employment Insurance Special Claims and Benefits

The number of special claims and the sum of benefits paid are less likely to be affected by the economic cycle than those related to regular benefits. These figures, are sensitive to demographic shifts, as well as changes to the labour force characteristics. In 2013/14, there were 515,330 special claims established, which represented a 1.0% increase from 2012/13, and followed a 0.3% increase from 2011/12. Total special benefits paid increased by 5.7% to $4.74 billion in 2013/14, the highest increase seen over the past three years (+4.7% in 2012/13 and +2.5% in 2011/12).

In 2013/14, women accounted for a large proportion (66.8%) of special benefits claims and received 83.0% of special benefits paid. Two main factors explain why women receive such a large proportion of special benefits. First, only women are eligible for maternity benefits, which comprised 21.7% of special benefits paid in 2013/14. Second, more often, women made 87.6% of the biological parental claims in 2013/14 and tended to receive the benefits for a longer duration when compared to men. For example, in 2013/14, the average duration of biological parental benefits was 31.7 weeks for women and 16.1 for men. Similarly, the average duration of adoptive parental benefits was 29.5 weeks for women and 19.0 weeks for men.

1.1.1 Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed Individuals

Self-employed workers have been able to opt into the EI program on a voluntary basis since January 31, 2010 by entering into an agreement to pay EI premiums in order to obtain access to EI special benefits. EI special benefits for self-employed workers became payable as of January 1, 2011.Footnote 113

Between the opt-in date of the measure and March 31, 2014, a total of 19,216 self-employed individuals opted into the self-employed EI program. Of these, a total of 4,822 individuals subsequently opted out of the EI program. The net total number of clients that have opted in was 14,394 as of March 31, 2014.

Between January 2011, when self-employed individuals were first eligible to claim EI special benefits, and March 2014, self-employed individuals made 2,316 claims and received $21.1 million in benefits, with 259 claims in 2010/11, 617 claims in 2011/12, 685 claims in 2012/13 and 755 claims in 2013/14. In 2013/14, self-employed women made 718 special claims (95.1% of all claims by self-employed individuals), and women aged 25 to 44 years old made 677 claims (94.3% of all claims by self-employed women).

In 2013/14, of the 755 claims established by self-employed individuals, 517 (68.5%) claimants received more than one type of special benefit. In 2013/14, 558 received EI maternity benefits, representing an increase of 12.3% (+61 claims) from the previous year. As shown in Table 32, self‑employed individuals received a total of $8.2 million in benefits. Maternity benefits accounted for $2.1 million. Moreover, 592 of the 755 claims were for EI parental (biological) benefits, accounting for $5.8 million.

Table 32 - Claims established and benefits, by Special Benefit Type
New Claims Amount Paid ($ Million)
2013/14 2012/13 % Change 2012/13– 2013/14 2013/14 2012/13 % Change 2012/13– 2013/14
Parental (Biological) 592 540 9.6% 5.8 3.4 70.6%
Parental (Adoption) Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable
Maternity 558 497 12.3% 2.1 1.9 10.5%
Sickness 162 135 20.0% 0.3 0.3 0.0%
Compassionate Care Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable
Total Self-employed Claims 755 685 10.20% 8.2 5.7 43.9%
  • Parental benefits (biological) that are shared between two parents are considered as two separate claims. For privacy reasons, the number of claims for Parental Benefits (Adoptive) and Compassionate Care Benefits are not provided. Therefore, the total benefits may not add up.
  • Source: ESDC, Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data. Data are based on a 100% sample of EI administrative data.

In 2013/14, the average duration of maternity claims established by self-employed claimants was 13.2 weeks per claim, 1.4 weeks less than non-self-employed claimants, while the average duration for parental (biological) benefits for self-employed was 29.9 weeks per claim, it was 0.2 weeks higher than non-self-employed individuals. Additionally, when parental (biological) benefits were not shared by self-employed individuals the average duration of biological parental benefits was 23.5 weeks for men and 31.1 weeks for women.

Results of the 2012 Evaluation Survey of Self-Employed PeopleFootnote 114 found that self-employed individuals who had registered for EI special benefits were more likely than self-employed individuals who did not register for special benefits to be women; to be under 45 years of age; and to report post-secondary education. The study also found that a majority of the participants worked in professional services, government, education or health care industries and reported fewer years of self-employment.

1.1.2 Employment Insurance Parental Benefits for Military Families

Effective July 4, 2010, the eligibility period was extended for Canadian Forces members who could not collect all their parental benefits during the standard eligibility period because of an imperative military requirement that either deferred or interrupted their parental leave. The eligibility period during which EI parental benefits can be paid may be extended by one week for each week that an eligible claimant is unable to collect EI parental benefits. The extension is subject to a maximum eligibility period of 104 weeks.Footnote 115

As of March 31, 2014, there have been 97 parental claims that have utilized this provision: 52 from Ontario, 36 from the Western Provinces and 11 from the Atlantic Provinces. Canadian Forces members residing in Quebec apply for parental benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).

1.2 Level of Employment Insurance Special Benefits

Table 33 - Average Weekly Benefit, by Special Benefit Type
2013/14 ($) 2012/13 ($) Growth (%)
Parental (Biological) Male 467 443 5.4
Female 419 396 5.8
Both 425 402 5.7
Parental (Adoption) Male 483 481 0.4
Female 459 438 4.8
Both 464 449 3.3
Maternity Male N/A N/A N/A
Female 416 394 5.6
Both N/A N/A N/A
Sickness Male 427 404 5.7
Female 359 336 6.8
Both 388 365 6.3
Compassionate Care Male 446 426 4.7
Female 403 375 7.5
Both 415 389 6.7
  • Source: ESDC, EI administrative data.

As seen in Table 33, growth in the average weekly benefit rate was positive across the special benefits for men and women in 2013/14. Average weekly special benefits increased by between 4.7% and 7.5% for all benefit types and genders. This general increase is in line with the increase in average weekly wages and the increase in the maximum insurable earnings (MIE). MIE increased by 3.3%, from $45,900 in 2012 to $47,400 in 2013.

Another way to assess the level of benefits support is to look at the proportion of special benefits claimants receiving the maximum weekly benefit. In 2013/14, 41.2% of special benefits claimants received the maximum weekly benefit, an increase from 37.8% in 2012/13. This proportion is higher than levels observed over the past few years, where the maximum benefit rate has been hovering between 37% and 38%. According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2013/14, the average weekly wage for men ($1,104) was 21.2% ($194) higher than that for women ($915). This spike in maximizing weekly benefits could be attributable to a higher proportion of EI special claims established by men, 33.1% of all EI special claims, as well as increased earnings for women making special benefits claims Similar to previous years, a higher proportion of regular benefits claimants continue to receive the maximum weekly benefits (46.0%). There are two reasons for this: men were overrepresented among regular claims (60.9%), and not surprisingly women (66.9%) were overrepresented among special claims; and the average weekly wage for men was higher than that for women.

1.3 Combining Employment Insurance Special Benefits

Different types of special benefits can be combined within a single claim, under certain circumstances, to a potential maximum duration of 104 weeks.

Among new special claims established in 2013/14,Footnote 116 the majority (67.5%) of claimants used only one type of special benefit, while nearly one-third (32.5%) combined more than one special benefit in a single claim. In fact, 28.5% of claims combined two special benefits and 4.0% of claimants combined three special benefits. The vast majority (97.4%) of those combining two special benefits combined maternity and parental benefits.

An evaluation studyFootnote 117 found that the majority of maternity/parental claimants do not combine their maternity/parental benefits with other types of benefits (i.e., regular benefits, sickness benefits, fishing benefits and compassionate care benefits). However, if they do, women outside of Quebec, often combine maternity/parental benefits with sickness benefits, while men outside of Quebec, often combine parental benefits with regular benefits.

2. Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

EI maternity benefits are offered to biological mothers, including surrogate mothers, who take time away from work because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. A maximum of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits is available (with a two week waiting period). The 15 weeks may be paid as early as eight weeks before the expected date of birth and may end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth.

EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological or adoptive parents (with a two week waiting period), which can be shared between the parents.

For assessment purposes, various time periods in EI administrative data are used to ensure accuracy when analyzing the duration of EI special benefits. In this report, to assess the average duration of EI parental benefits, only claims established in the first half of 2013/14 were used, to ensure data were based on as many completed EI parental claims as possible. Given the shorter duration of maternity benefits, all claims established in 2013/14 were used.

2.1 Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Claims and Benefits

2.1.1 Employment Insurance Maternity Claims and Benefits

The number of new maternity claims decreased by 0.6% to 169,640 in 2013/14 from 170,680 in 2012/13. Maternity claims among the small group of self-employed workers participating in the EI program increased by 12.3%, from 497 in 2012/13 to 558. Maternity benefits paid increased by 4.8% to $1.03 billion in 2013/14. Self-employed women accounted for $2.1 million representing an increase of 11.3% from 2012/13. As in previous years, the vast majority of maternity claims were made by women aged 25 to 44, who accounted for 89.6% of all maternity claims in 2013/14. Women under 25 accounted for 10.4% of total maternity claims. Among the 169,640 maternity claims, 2,590 claimants received maternity benefits only.

In 2013/14, maternity claims increased in the following provinces; Prince Edward Island (+7.6%), Manitoba (+5.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+3.5%), Saskatchewan (+1.4%) and Alberta (+0.1%). The remaining provinces saw declines in the number of maternity claims, with the largest decrease occurring in New Brunswick (-8.5%) followed by Nova Scotia with a decrease of 5.7%. Of the 169,640 maternity claims in 2013/14, the majority (162,130 or 95.6%) were followed by biological parental claims. The overall number of maternity claims is relatively stable.

According to Statistics Canada’s Annual Demographic Estimates, the number of live births increased by 0.7% in 2013/14 to 385,937 from 383,103 in 2012/13, with Ontario and Quebec recording the highest number (36.9% and 22.9%, respectively). As illustrated in Chart 35, in 2013/14, the number of live births increased in Western Provinces by 2.6%, while the Atlantic Provinces experienced a 2.0% decrease over the same period.

2.1.2 Employment Insurance Parental (Biological) Claims and Benefits

In 2013/14, the number of parental claims made by biological parents decreased slightly by 0.6% to 189,480. However, parental benefits paid to biological parents rose by 5.5% to $2.40 billion in 2013/14. This increase is largely attributable to the growth in average weekly benefits which increased by 5.7% to $425 in 2013/14. Self-employed individuals made 592 parental claims a 9.6% increase from the previous year (+540) which accounted for $5.76 million in biological parental benefits in 2013/14.

As in previous years, women made the vast majority (86.7%) of biological parental claims in 2013/14, and received 92.0% of benefits paid. The number of biological parental claims declined for both men (-3.0%) and women (-0.2%) between 2012/13 and 2013/14. Furthermore, the majority of biological parental claims are made by women aged 25 to 44, and in 2013/14 this group accounted for 77.8% of all biological parental claims. Subsequently, men aged 25 to 44 accounted for 12.2% of all biological parental claims. Combined, men and women under 25 accounted for 9.3% of biological parental claims.

In 2013/14, the number of parental claims made by biological parents increased significantly in Prince Edward Island (+20.2%), while the sharpest decreases were witnessed in New Brunswick (-8.6%) and in Nova Scotia (-8.2%).

The number of parental claims made by biological parents slightly increased in the Western Provinces (+0.2%), while it decreased in Ontario (-0.2%) and Atlantic Provinces (-4.3%) in 2013/14. As shown in Chart 41, the fluctuation in the number of parental claims made by biological parents was relatively consistent with the fluctuation in the number of maternity claims among the four regions. In 2013/14, the number of live births increased by 0.7% nationally from 383,103 in 2012/13 to 385,937. While the Atlantic Provinces witnessed an overall decline in the number of live births, the Western Provinces experienced the opposite. Among the provinces Alberta recorded the highest live birth increase of 4.4% followed by Saskatchewan with a 2.7% increase.

Chart 41 - Changes in the Number of Parental (Biological) Maternity Claims and Live Births, by Region, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Chart 41: description follows
Show data table: Chart 41 - Changes in the Number of Parental (Biological) Maternity Claims and Live Births, by Region, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Year over year changes
Parental Biological Claims Maternity Claims Live Birth Rate
Atlantic provinces -4.3% -3.8% -1.3%
Ontario -0.2% -0.9% 0.9%
Western provinces 0.2% 0.4% 2.0%
  • *Quebec is excluded as this province has administered its own maternity and parental benefits since January 2006.
  • Sources: ESDC, Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data and Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

As illustrated in Chart 42, with the exception of Prince Edward Island the fluctuation in the number of parental claims made by biological parents was consistent with the fluctuation in the number of maternity claims among the provinces. In 2013/14, the greatest increase of biological parental claims was recorded in Prince Edward Island with an increase of 20.2%; this sharp increase may be explained by the number of new claims established by men (122.2%, +110,) and women (+9.4%, +80). In addition, the vast majority of claims were made by men aged 25 to 44 who increased by 88.9% in 2013/14, while women under 25 increased almost three-fold from 60 claims in 2012/13 to 200 claims in 2013/14.

Chart 42 - Changes in the Number of Parental (Biological) and Maternity Claims, by Province, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Chart 42: description follows
Show data table: Chart 42 - Changes in the Number of Parental (Biological) and Maternity Claims, by Province, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Year over year changes
Parental Biological Claims Maternity Claims
N.L. 3.4% 3.5%
PEI 20.2% 7.6%
N.S. -8.2% -5.7%
N.B. -8.6% -8.5%
ONT -0.2% -0.9%
MAN 3.2% 5.3%
SASK 3.0% 1.4%
ALTA 0.1% 0.1%
BC -1.6% -1.0%
  • *Quebec is excluded as this province has administered its own maternity and parental benefits since January 2006.
  • Source: ESDC, Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data.

2.1.3 Employment Insurance Parental (Adoptive) Claims and Benefits

The number of parental (adoptive) claims made decreased in 2013/14 by 11.8% to 1,640. The number of parental (adoptive) claims made by self-employed individuals was negligible. Adoptive parents received a total of $20.6 million in benefits.

The entitlement to this benefits is often shared. For the purpose of this report, unless otherwise indicated, the average duration figure provided will be the number of weeks used per family basis. The average durationFootnote 118 of EI parental (adoptive) claims was 27.6 weeks per family in 2013/14, slightly higher than the duration in 2012/13 (26.6 weeks). In 2013/14, the average duration of biological parental claims was 29.7 weeks per claim, 2.1 weeks higher than parental (adoptive) claims.

2.2 Accessibility to Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

According to the 2013 Employment Insurance Coverage Survey (EICS), the number of mothers with a child up to 12 months old increased by 1.1% in 2013, to 400,456 individuals, compared to 395,990 in 2012. In 2013, 77.0% of these mothers had insured income before giving birth to, or adopting their child, compared with 77.9% in 2012. Among these insured mothers, 91.9% received maternity or parental benefits, an increase of 3.7 percentage points from 2012 (88.2%). Overall, 66.9% of women received maternity and/or parental special benefits in 2013, which represents two-thirds of all new mothers.

For all provinces combined, the proportion of fathers who claimed or intended to claim parental benefits increased to 30.8% in 2013, from 25.4% in 2012, from 29.3% in 2011, and 29.6% in 2010.

In Quebec, the QPIP has had a major impact on the number of fathers who claimed or intended to claim parental benefits. QPIP includes leave that is available exclusively to fathers and since its introduction on January 1, 2006, the proportion of fathers in Quebec who took or intended to take parental leave has almost tripled, from 27.8% in 2005 to 80.1% in 2012. The statistics reported above originate from the EICS and include parents in Quebec receiving benefits from the provincial program.

2.3 Level of Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

The average weekly benefit for maternity benefits continued to rise in 2013/14, reaching $416 (+5.8%), up from $394 in 2012/13.

Similarly, the average weekly benefit for parental (biological) benefits rose by 5.7% to $425 in 2013/14, compared with $402 the previous year. The proportion of parental benefit claimants who received the maximum weekly benefit was 52.8%, slightly higher than the proportion in 2012/13 (48.6%).

The average weekly benefit for parental (adoptive) claims rose by 3.4% to $464 in 2013/14. In 2013/14, 66.5% of parental (adoptive) claimants received the maximum weekly benefit, a decrease of 3.4% from 69.9% in 2012/13.

2.4 Duration of Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

As in previous fiscal years, in 2013/14, claimants used almost all of the EI maternity and parental weeks to which they were entitled. Although the vast majority of mothers (90.5%) used the full 15 weeks available, the average duration of maternity benefits remained at 14.6 weeks.

However, the average duration of parental claims can be adjusted to reflect the fact that parents can share the 35 weeks of parental benefits available to them. In 2013/14, the average duration of biological parental claims, as calculated on a family basis, was 30.4 weeks for parents who decided to share the parental benefits and 31.9 weeks for those who decided not to share, and this has remained stable over several years.Footnote 119,Footnote 120 In comparison to biological parental claims, adoptive parental claims for both shared and non-shared recorded similar results, 30.4 and 32.6, respectively. Claimants who received both maternity and parental benefits used 46.9 weeks, or 93.8%, of the 50 weeks of maternity and parental benefits available to them on average in 2013/14, a proportion similar to that of the previous year (93.7%). Similar to last year, low-income claimants receiving maternity and parental benefits as well as the Family Supplement collected an average of 46.2 weeks of maternity and parental benefits, relatively similar to the number of weeks collected by claimants (46.9 weeks) not receiving the Family Supplement.

Similarly, the decision to share parental (biological) benefits has a limited effect on the average duration of the claim. As shown in Chart 43, in 2013/14, when parental benefits are shared on average women collected 22.0 weeks while men collected 10.5 weeks. When parental benefits are not shared, women collect 32.2 weeks on average while men collect 27.3 weeks on average. Similar results have been observed in the past few years.

Chart 43 - Average Weeks Parental Per Claim Collected between Shared and Non-Shared, by gender 2010/11 to 2013/14
Chart 43: description follows
Show data table: Chart 43 - Average Weeks Parental Per Claim Collected between Shared and Non-Shared, by gender 2010/11 to 2013/14
2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
Men (Shared) 10.4 10.3 10.5
Women (Shared) 21.4 21.7 22
Men (Non-Shared) 26.8 28.1 27.3
Women (Non-Shared) 32.2 32.1 32.2
  • Source: ESDC, EI administrative data.

3. Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

EI provides up to 15 weeks of sickness benefits (with a two week waiting period) to help claimants who take time away from work due to a short-term illness, injury or quarantine.

3.1 Employment Insurance Sickness Claims and Benefits

In 2013/14, the number of new EI sickness claims increased by 2.1%, to 336,800 from 329,750 in 2012/13. Benefits paid increased by 7.2% to $1.3 billion in 2013/14. The increase in sickness benefits paid in 2013/14 is attributable to multiple factors such as the increase in new EI sickness claims and an increase of 6.2% in average weekly sickness benefit rate. Women made 57.2% of EI sickness claims while men made 42.8%, similar to the proportion in previous years. In 2013/14, self-employed individuals made 162 sickness claims, and received $256,000 in sickness benefits. It should be noted that the increase in sickness benefits accounts for much of growth in special benefits paid (29.9%).

As shown in Table 34, there is no uniform trend across the country, when studied closely, there are two obvious trends emerging in different parts of the country. Firstly, in 2013/14, both Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island recorded an increase in their share of the number of EI sickness claims (+6.5% and +17.4%, respectively). Subsequently, their proportion of benefit payments followed a similar trend to that of claims (+4.2% and +16.7%, respectively). For both provinces, this upward trend was driven by an increase in average duration and average weekly benefits. For the number of new claims a similar trends were observed in Ontario (+3.8%), Saskatchewan (+3.8%) and Alberta (+2.9%). Secondly, New Brunswick (-2.9%) and Manitoba (-2.5%) both saw a decrease in the number of new EI sickness claims. While the proportion of benefits increased significantly for New Brunswick (+3.9%), it increased only marginally for Manitoba (+0.8%). In these provinces, the average weekly benefit was the driving force behind the increase in benefits payments. The average weekly benefit for New Brunswick increased by 4.3% to $390, and for Manitoba it increased by 8.6% to $392.

Table 34 - Percentage Change in EI Sickness Claims, average duration, average weekly benefit and Benefits, by Province, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Claims Average Duration Average Weekly Benefit Benefit Paid
2012/13 2013/14 Change % 2012/13 2013/14 Change % 2012/13 2013/14 Change % 2012/13 2013/14 Change %
Newfoundland and Labrador 8,880 9,460 580 6.5% 10 9.9 -0.1 -1.0% 385 390 5 1.3% 36.3 37.8 1.5 4.1%
Prince Edward Island 4,300 5,050 750 17.4% 7.9 8 0.1 1.3% 378 382 4 1.1% 13.5 15.7 2.2 16.3%
Nova Scotia 15,310 16,530 1,220 8.0% 9.4 9.3 -0.1 -1.1% 362 383 21 5.8% 54.8 59.9 5.1 9.3%
New Brunswick 21,050 20,440 -610 -2.9% 8.4 8.1 -0.3 -3.6% 374 390 16 4.3% 67.5 70.1 2.6 3.9%
Quebec 103,930 104,120 190 0.2% 9 9 0 0.0% 364 380 16 4.4% 346 362.4 16.4 4.7%
Ontario 89,260 92,650 3,390 3.8% 10.3 10.4 0.1 1.0% 359 386 27 7.5% 331.8 368.9 37.1 11.2%
Manitoba 10,220 9,960 -260 -2.5% 9.7 10.3 0.6 6.2% 361 392 31 8.6% 37.7 38 0.3 0.8%
Saskatchewan 6,810 7,070 260 3.8% 10 10.1 0.1 1.0% 373 401 28 7.5% 24.7 28.3 3.6 14.6%
Alberta 23,980 24,680 700 2.9% 10.6 10.7 0.1 0.9% 389 420 31 8.0% 98.8 107.5 8.7 8.8%
British Columbia 45,120 46,210 1,090 2.4% 10.4 10.4 0 0.0% 358 389 31 8.7% 176.1 184.6 8.5 4.8%
Canada 329,750 336,800 7,050 2.1% 9.7 9.7 0 0.0% 365 388 23 6.3% 1,191.00 1,276.80 85.8 7.2%
  • Source: ESDC, EI administrative data.

When comparing sickness claimants by age groups, claimants aged 25 to 54r represented 67.4% of sickness claims in 2013/14. Older workers (55 years and older) represented 25.0% (see Chart 44) of all EI sickness claims, while they represented only 19.2% of national employment. The proportion of EI sickness claims made by older workers has been increasing since 2010/11. Older workers also represented an increasing proportion of employment, (up from 17.9% in 2011/12 to 18.6% in 2012/13).

Chart 44 - Distribution of EI Sickness Claims and Employment, by Age, 2013/14
Chart 44: description follows
Show data table: Chart 44 - Distribution of EI Sickness Claims and Employment, by Age, 2013/14
Employment EI Sickness Claims
15 to 24 years 13.8% 7.5%
25 to 54 years old 67.1% 67.4%
55 years and older 19.2% 25.0%
  • Sources: Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data and Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.

In 2013/14, 34.8% of all EI sickness claimants collected the maximum 15 weeks of benefits. Compared to the proportion they represent in the labour force, older workers were overrepresented (28.8%) among those who collected the maximum 15 weeks of benefits. From the perspective of the overall population, in 2013/14 the 25 to 54 age cohort showed the largest increase in sickness claims (see Chart 44). However, when the various age groups are further divided into small segments of the population, the 55+ group showed the greatest increase in sickness claims (+6.8%) in 2013/14, reflecting the continued increase in employment for workers in this age group and, more generally, Canada’s aging population. In 2013/14, the share of employment for older workers (55+) increased by 0.6 percentage points, from 18.6% in 2012/13 to 19.2% in 2013/14. Claims from those aged 25 to 44 and those 45 to 54 both saw increases (+0.8% and +1.5%, respectively), while claims from those aged 24 and younger dropped by 3.1% in 2013/14.

3.2 Level of Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

The average weekly benefit for sickness claims rose by 6.2% to $388 in 2013/14, compared with $365 the previous year.

3.3 Duration of Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

In 2013/14 sickness claimants received benefits for an average of 9.7 weeks, which represents 64.7% of the maximum entitlement of 15 weeks and is unchanged from the previous year. In addition, 34.8% of sickness claimants nationally collected the maximum 15 weeks of benefits, one percentage point higher than that observed in 2012/13 (33.8%). Currently there is limited data regarding claimants who received the maximum entitlement. As more data becomes available, future reporting will provide additional analysis on this claimant group and related trend.

Chart 45 illustrates that age is the determinant factor for duration of benefits when looking at the number of sickness weeks used by claimants. In 2013/14, the proportion of claimants who collected 6 weeks or less was highest for those aged 15 to 24 (39.2%), The reverse was true when examining the maximum entitlement weeks collected, where 39.9% of older workers collected the maximum 15 weeks of benefits while those aged 15 to 24 represented 28.2% of those collecting 15 weeks. When looking at those claimants who collected between 7 to 10 weeks or 11 to 14 weeks of sickness benefits, there was little variations among all age groups.

A surveyFootnote 121 conducted by COMPAS of a representative sample of 1,258 EI claimants found that, Of those EI claimants who exhausted their 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits nearly three-quarters (72%) did not return to work within 6 months, or never return to work.

Chart 45 - Percentage weeks of EI sickness used by claimants, by age in 2013/14
Chart 45: description follows
Show data table: Chart 45 - Percentage weeks of EI sickness used by claimants, by age in 2013/14
Number of Weeks
Age ≤ 6 Weeks 7 to 10 Weeks 11 to 14 Weeks 15 Weeks
Canada 33.6% 15.2% 16.4% 34.8%
15 to 24 Years (Youth) 39.2% 16.3% 16.3% 28.2%
25 to 44 Years 36.4% 16.0% 16.6% 31.0%
45 to 54 Years 31.9% 14.7% 15.8% 37.6%
55 Years and Older 29.2% 14.2% 16.7% 39.9%
  • Source: ESDC, EI administrative data.

3.4 Premium Reduction Program

The Premium Reduction Program (PRP) reduces EI premiums for employers if their employees are covered by a registered employer-based short-term disability plan that meets or exceeds the requirements set by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission in the Employment Insurance Regulations. In this context, for an employer’s sickness benefits plan to be eligible for a premium reduction under the PRP, employees must have at least equivalent protection provided by EI sickness benefits. Additionally, participating employers must return the employee share of the premium reduction to workers, which may be done via another employee benefit such as dental coverage, or other methods in place between employee and employer.

Based on the projections in the most recent Report from Chief ActuaryFootnote 122, estimated reduction in employer premiums due to qualified Wage-Loss Replacement (WLR) plan was $859 million, compared to $911 million in 2013 (see Table 35). In 2014, there were an estimated 32,500 employers participating in the PRP.

Table 35 - Historical Statistics on Premium Reduction Program Between 2009 and 2014
2009 (Actual) 2010 (Actual) 2011 (Actual) 2012 (Actual) 2013 (Actual) 2014 (Forecast)
Total Amount of Premium Reductions Received by Participating Employers ($ millions) $839M $863M $877M $920M $911M $859M
  • Source: 2015 Actuarial Report on the Employment Insurance Premium Rate.

4. Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits

The EI program provides six weeks of compassionate care benefits to persons who take time away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

4.1 Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Claims and Benefits

In 2013/14, there were 6,003 claims for EI compassionate care benefits, a 1.6% decrease over 2012/13. Compassionate care benefits amounted to $12.0 million in 2013/14, a 3.8% increase from 2012/13.

In 2013/14, 45.4% of compassionate care benefits claims from Ontario, 15.9% from British Columbia and 15.8% were from Quebec. Prince Edward Island had the lowest number of compassionate care benefit claims (0.6%).

In 2013/14, women made up 72.2% of compassionate care claims, which represents a slight increase of 0.3% percentage points from 2012/13 (71.9%), while men made up 27.5%. In comparison, in 2013/14 women represented 48.2% of the labour force while men represented 52.3%. From 2012/13 to 2013/14, the number of compassionate care claims decreased for both men (-3.9%) and women (‑0.8%).The number of claims made by those aged 55 and older increased significantly (+7.3%) in 2013/14, while those made by people aged 45 to 54 decreased by 3.4% in 2013/14.

In 2013/14, most provinces witnessed an increase in compassionate care benefits paid. Saskatchewan witnessed the highest increase (35.7%), (see Chart 46), followed by Manitoba (9.1%) and Nova Scotia (8.5%). The increase for Saskatchewan was mainly attributable to; an increase in the number of claims (+34.5%) and weekly benefit rate (+11.2%). It should be noted that, Saskatchewan’s average weekly benefit rate of $440 was 6.0% higher than the national average of $415. In contrast, Prince Edward Island and Quebec both witnessed decreases in compassionate care benefits paid (-5.3% and -5.1%, respectively). The decrease in benefits for these two provinces is proportionate to the decreases in claims.

Chart 46 - % Change in Compassionate Care Benefits by Claims and Benefits, by Province, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Chart 46: description follows
Show data table: Chart 46 - % Change in Compassionate Care Benefits by Claims and Benefits, by Province, Between 2012/13 and 2013/14
Province Claims Benefits
Canada -1.6% 3.8%
N.L. -11.1% 4.3%
P.E.I. -5.4% -5.3%
N.S. 3.7% 8.5%
N.B. -18.7% -1.3%
Que. -11.0% -5.1%
Ont. 0.8% 4.3%
Man. 12.9% 9.1%
Sask. 34.5% 35.7%
Alta. -2.5% 8.7%
B.C. -3.7% 2.2%
  • Source: ESDC, Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data.

4.2 Accessibility to Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits

When applying for compassionate care benefits, claimants must indicate their relationship with the family member that they are caring for, and provide a medical certificate proving the family member is seriously ill and at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. An evaluation studyFootnote 123 found that the vast majority (81.9%) of applicants who filed for compassionate care benefits did so to take care of either a parent (55.9%), spouse or partner (26.0%) in 2012/13. Individuals applied for compassionate care benefits to take care of child (their own child, the child of a spouse or the child of a common-law partner) in 6.8% of all cases, while those who applied to care for a sibling represented 4.4%. These proportions were consistent with those reported in previous years. Additionally, the report also found that the acceptance rate was highest for sister-brother (70.8%), followed by spouse or partner (69.3%) and mother-father (68.1%) Applicants looking to receive benefits for a child had the lowest acceptance rate (52.4%).

Table 36 - Compassionate Care Claimants by Type of Relationship to Gravely Ill Person, 2012/13
Type of Relationship Distribution of Compassionate Care Claimants (%)
Mother or father 55.9
Spouse or partner 26.0
Other 6.9
Child 6.8
Sister or brother 4.4
Total 100
  • Source: ESDC, EI administrative data.

In June 2006, a regulatory change broadened the definition of “family member” to allow siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, foster parents, wards and any other individuals considered family members by the gravely ill person — or his or her representative — to be eligible for compassionate care benefits. Administrative data show that the broadened eligibility resulted in additional applications in 2012/13 (the “other” and “sister or brother” categories in Table 36), representing approximately 11.3% of all compassionate care benefit applicants, a decrease of 0.3% from 2012/13. Since implementation of the broadened eligibility criteria, both the number and proportion of applicants in these two categories have increased annually.

4.3 Level of Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits

In 2013/14, the average weekly benefit for compassionate care benefits increased to $415 (+6.7%). As mentioned in previous sections, this general increase is in line with the increase in average weekly wages and the increase in maximum insurable earnings (MIE) from 2012 to 2013. The MIE for 2013 was $47,400, from $45,900 (+3.3%) in 2012.

4.4 Duration of Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits

Similar to previous years, on average claimants used 4.7 weeks of compassionate care benefits or 78.3% of the maximum entitlement of 6 weeks in 2013/14. The proportion of compassionate care claimants who used all of their entitlement was 57.3% in 2013/14, significantly lower than that observed in 2012/13 (73.1%).

Although eligible family members can share the 6 weeks of entitlement, in most cases they are not doing so. In 2013/14, the compassionate care benefit was only shared in 2.4% of cases, a proportion almost identical to that of previous years. Subsequently, of those who chose not to share the compassionate benefits, 72.8% were women, and 27.2% were men. Similar observations were made in 2012/13 (72.0% and 28.0%, respectively).

According to a recent studyFootnote 124, the main reason a claimant does not receive the entire six weeks of benefits is that the care recipient passes away while the claimant is receiving compassionate care benefits. The study also found that those claimants caring for a spouse are more likely to use the entire six-week period than those caring for another family member, and those living with a gravely ill care recipient are more likely to use the entire six-week period than those who do not live with the care recipient. Finally, claimants who combine compassionate care benefits with another type of EI benefit are more likely to use the full six weeks available to them than those who only receive compassionate care benefits.

5. Parents of Critically Ill Children Benefits

The EI benefit for parents of critically ill children (PCIC) became available on June 9, 2013, to eligible EI insured workers and to self-employed individuals who have opted into EI. Under the PCIC benefits, up to 35 weeks of EI benefits are available (with a two week waiting period), which can be shared among eligible parents.

5.1 Parents of Critically Ill Children Claims and Benefits

The PCIC benefit was only available for a portion of the 2013/14 year due to the timing of its introduction. From June 9, 2013 to March 31, 2014, a total of 1,733 PCIC claims were established. Claimants residing in Ontario established the highest share of PCIC claims with 35.6% (617), followed by Quebec with 26.4% (457). As shown in Table 37, the distribution of PCIC claims was consistent with the distribution of core aged workers (age 25 – 44).

Of the 1,733 PCIC claims established in 2013/14, women represented 77.7% (1,347) of the claims while men represented 22.2% (384) of claims.

As shown in Table 37, PCIC claims established in 2013/14 had an average weekly benefit rate of $425, higher than the average ($403) for all EI special benefits claims. In fiscal year 2013/14 a total of $7.4 million in PCIC benefits were paid.

As PCIC claims are currently processed manually, the level of data available to examine the benefits is limited. For example, data on claim duration taking into account the sharing of benefits by parents was not available. As more data becomes available, future EI Monitoring and Assessment Reports will provide a more comprehensive analysis of the PCIC benefits.

Table 37 - Preliminary Data on Parents of Critically Ill Children, 2013/14
Province/Territory New Claims % of PCIC Claims % of Employment (age 25 - 44) 2 Average Weekly Benefit Rate Amount Paid ($)3
Newfoundland and Labrador 16 0.9% 1.3% 407 84,594
Prince Edward Island 9 0.5% 0.4% 416 34,683
Nova Scotia 56 3.2% 2.3% 402 234,595
New Brunswick 43 2.5% 1.9% 441 129,175
Quebec 457 26.4% 22.8% 417 1,768,333
Ontario 617 35.6% 38.0% 425 2,877,535
Manitoba 59 3.4% 3.5% 412 235,731
Saskatchewan 51 2.9% 3.2% 443 161,454
Alberta 219 12.6% 13.9% 444 975,069
British Columbia 197 11.4% 12.8% 422 889,571
Men 384 22.2% 52.1% 452 N/A
Women 1,349 77.8% 47.9% 417 N/A
Total1 1,733 100% 100% 428 7,440,056
  • 1 For privacy reasons, data for the Territories is not provided. As a result, the total number of claims may not add up to the total presented.
  • 2 Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 282-0002.
  • 3 Parents of Critically Ill Children benefits paid from Financial Statements for the EI Operating Account.
  • Source: ESDC, Employment Insurance (EI) administrative data. Data are based on a 100% sample of EI administrative data.
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