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

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Reduced spring service planned for Kootenay Lake ferry

Expected low lake levels is the reason for the longer wait times

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Avalanche control planned tomorrow on Highway 1

The highway will be closed in the morning east of Revelstoke

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders

Most Read