The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Honourable Carla Qualtrough, announced that the Government of Canada will permanently extend EI sickness benefits from 15 to 26 weeks beginning on December 18, 2022.
The change to EI sickness benefits is expected to support approximately 169,000 Canadians annually. Individuals who qualify and establish a new claim on or after December 18, 2022, can receive up to 26 weeks of EI sickness benefits if they 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 ($650 for 2023).
Additionally, the Canada Labour Code will increase the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to federally regulated private-sector employees from 17 to 27 weeks beginning on December 18, 2022. This change ensures that employees have the right to take unpaid job-protected leave while receiving the extended EI sickness benefits.
For plans with short-term disability programs that integrate with EI sickness benefits, there are no requirements to automatically adopt the extension to 26 weeks. As such, no action is required by plan sponsors at this time.
Plans interested in incorporating the 26-week EI Sickness benefit will need to review the potential financial impact on members as well as on their health and well-being. For EI integration plans that decide to incorporate the extension, it is anticipated that the Government will implement measures to expedite the transition within a specified period of time.