Majority of Canadians support extending sickness benefit, even if they have to pay for it: survey


Published February 23, 2021 at 1:11 am


Many Canadians feel like they aren’t afforded enough time to recover before returning to work if they get sick.

A recent survey from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) found that the majority of Canadians support expanding sickness benefits, whether it’s funded by employers or out of their own pocket.

According to the results, 88 per cent of respondents believe the sickness benefit covered as part of Employment Insurance (EI) should be expanded from the current 15 weeks to 26 weeks.

This extension would allow those who require treatment for medical conditions, such as cancer, more paid time off work to heal and recover, which would bring the EI sickness benefit in line with the amount of paid time off given to caregivers through the compassionate care benefit.

“When Canadians face cancer, too often the challenges they face are not just medical, but also financial,” Kelly Masotti, vice president of Advocacy with the CCS, said in a news release.

“The average length of treatment for people with breast and colon cancer—two of the most commonly diagnosed cancers for Canadians—ranges between 26 and 37 weeks. We must provide additional support for people living with cancer; no one should be forced to choose between a paycheque and cancer treatment,” she continued.

Additionally, based on the findings, many Canadians would be open to this extension, even if they had to pay for it themselves—87 per cent of respondents said they would support a five-cent increase to employer-paid premiums in year one, and a one-cent increase the following year, to fund the longer sickness benefit period.

“These polling results show us that Canadians understand the importance of longer sickness benefits for people living with cancer,” Masotti said.

“For years we have been telling the government that 15 weeks is simply not enough time for most cancer patients to undergo treatment and recover,” she added.

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