The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a Manitoba grandmother’s right to claim Employment Insurance parental benefits. This ruling could help families caring for grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. The grandmother is owed about $10,000.
The grandmother, whose identity is protected for the sake of her foster child, began caring for the child when her daughter had a baby 2 ½ years ago. The daughter suffers from schizophrenia and psychosis, and also struggles with drug addiction. Thus, she was deemed unfit to be a parent. Child welfare officials placed the baby in the care of the grandparents, with the understanding that they would eventually adopt the baby. However, when the grandmother took time off from work to take care of the child, her application for EI parental benefits was denied. Officials said that the placement was not yet permanent, and therefore she was not entitled to the benefits.
Last January, the federal government announced that it was extending EI parental benefit eligibility to foster parents who plan to adopt the children in their care. Nonetheless, the EI commission argued before the Federal Court that since the grandmother had only temporary legal custody at the time of application, she did not qualify. The court rejected that argument, ruling that “to accept that argument would impose a judge-made precondition to eligibility for benefits . . . that is not stated or necessarily implied” by EI legislation.
This precedent-setting case opens the doors for more individuals who are looking after children left in their care by child protection agencies for more benefits.
For the full article from The Toronto Star: