Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits Increasing from 15 to 26 Weeks

As part of the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, the federal government announced on November 25, 2022 that Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits will be extended from 15 weeks to 26 weeks, effective December 18, 2022.

Employees who qualify and establish a new EI claim on or after December 18 will be eligible for up to 26 weeks of EI sickness benefits and will receive those benefits provided they meet the eligibility criteria (being unable to work for medical reasons with a medical certificate, regular weekly earnings decrease by more than 40% for at least a week, accumulated at least 600 insured hours in the last 52 weeks).

To align with the extension of EI sickness benefits, the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to federally regulated private-sector employees will also be extended from 17 to 27 weeks under the Canada Labour Code, also effective December 18 2022. This will ensure that employees have the right to take unpaid job-protected leave while receiving the extended EI sickness benefits.

The extension of EI sickness benefits may directly impact benefit plan sponsors where disability benefits are tied to EI benefits. You are encouraged to review your plan terms to ensure that your plan reflects the change in EI eligibility. For now the Government of Canada has advised that there will be no impact on the premium reduction program that benefits many employers, but we will be monitoring this for updates as further changes to the EI program are expected.

If you have any questions about the extension of EI benefits and the impact on your workplace benefit plan please contact a member of our Pensions and Benefits Group for more information.

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Lawson Lundell's Pension and Employee Benefits Law Blog provides updates on the most recent legal developments impacting pension and employee benefit plans. We cover a range of topics, including recent case law and changes to relevant provincial and federal legislation.

Legal Disclaimer: The information made available on this webpage is for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please contact our firm if you need legal advice or have questions about the content of this webpage. 

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