Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos defended Service Canada’s decision to ask its employees to adopt gender-neutral language when interacting with the public, as members of the opposition mocked the policy mercilessly. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Demand for EI sickness benefits on the rise; NDP cites need for update

Demand for sickness benefits under federal employment insurance program has reached a 10-year high

More and more Canadians are applying for federal help as they take time away from work to battle serious illness — and almost four out of every 10 applicants are maxing out their benefits.

Since 2015, demand for sickness benefits under the federal employment insurance program has reached a 10-year high, with more than half of successful applicants taking 10 or more weeks’ worth of payments.

The figures, contained in a recent report to Parliament, show more than 142,000 people used their maximum allotment of 15 weeks in 2017, an increase of about eight per cent from the previous year.

WATCH: NDP gives Liberal budget ‘failing grade’ on gender equality

READ MORE: Federal budget to unveil incentive for 5-week second parent leave

NDP jobs critic Niki Ashton says the fact that so many people are using up their benefit is evidence that the 47-year-old program needs an update.

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the government has already made improvements to sickness benefits to give people more options for returning to work.

In the 2018 budget, the Liberal government agreed to allow new parents and those recovering from illnesses to work while receiving benefits without jeopardizing their EI payments.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Woman steals truck from Ponoka gas station while being fueled

Ponoka RCMP pursued and located the woman in a tree after several other incidents

Robbery report at outlet mall turns out to be fake: police

Leduc RCMP respond to weapons complaint at premium outlet collection mall

Road allowance agreement approved by county council Aug. 7

Road allowance lease also affects access for other resident

Suspect in Wetaskiwin trunk kidnapping arrested

Ponoka RCMP seek arrest warrants for suspects of armed robbery as well

Man attempts to stop fight in Wetaskiwin, gets stabbed: RCMP

Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for two suspects involved in assault with a weapon

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on customer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Most Read