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Caregiver and Survivor Benefits

By: CVH Team

Caregiver benefits

Caregiver benefits through Canada Employment Insurance

Since 2004, the Government of Canada has offered a Compassionate Care Benefit to Canadians who need time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member.

Caregivers who experience a loss of income as a result of providing care to a seriously ill family member may apply to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) to receive up to six weeks of special benefits (following a two-week waiting period).

To qualify for the compassionate family care leave benefit, caregivers must have 600 hours of insured work in the designated qualifying period and their regular weekly earnings must have decreased by more than 40%. To apply, caregivers complete an application form and submit documents which verify that a family member is seriously ill with a significant risk of death in the next 26 weeks (six months) and that there is a need for one or more family members to provide care or support. These documents include:

  • Authorization to Release a Medical Certificate
    This document must be completed and signed by the ill person or their legal representative.
  • Medical Certificate for Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefits
    The certificate must be completed and signed by the ill person’s doctor.

Caregiver benefits through individual employers

Some employers allow employees to take leave without pay for the long-term care of family members. Unpaid leaves can vary in length from three weeks all the way up to five years. Employers set their own policies on when and how a leave will be granted.

Caregiver allowance in Nova Scotia

Caregivers in Nova Scotia may be eligible to to receive a caregiver allowance of $400 per month.  To be eligible for the benefit, both the person who requires care and the person providing care must meet certain program criteria.

Caregivers must:

  • be 19 years of age or older and a Nova Scotia resident with a valid Nova Scotia health card number
  • provide 20 hours of assistance per week to a qualified care recipient

Care recipients must:

  • be 19 years of age or older and a Nova Scotia resident with a valid Nova Scotia health card number
  • have a high level of disability or impairment (demonstrated through a home care assessment)
  • submit to an income review (as the benefit is only provided to caregivers of recipients with low incomes)

More information about the Nova Scotia Caregiver Allowance is available on the Nova Scotia provincial government website at www.gov.ns.ca/health.

Survivor benefits

Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits

Working Canadians contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) through payroll deductions. When a contributor dies, CPP survivor benefits are paid to the contributor’s estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children. In order to receive CPP benefits, you must apply for them. There are three types of benefits:

  • Death benefit
    This a one-time payment to the estate of a deceased CPP contributor.
  • Survivor's pension
    This a monthly pension paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased contributor.
  • Children's benefit
    This a monthly benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor. Dependent children are those under 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and attending school or university full-time.


Québec Pension Plan survivor benefits

The Québec Pension Plan offers its own survivor benefits, which are similar to those offered by the CPP.


Employer life insurance or pensions

If the employer of the deceased offered life insurance through a group insurance plan, a lump sum of money will be available to survivors.

If the employer offered a pension plan, a portion of the employee’s pension benefits may be paid to survivors in the event of the employee’s death. Employees contribute to these plans over the course of their employment.

Content reviewed July 15, 2015