A member of Parliament requested that the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) estimate the cost of increasing the duration of EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50 weeks. Sickness benefits offer temporary financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to sickness, injury or quarantine, replacing 55% of income up to a maximum insurable amount of $53,100 per year, as of 2019.
This report estimates the additional cost to be approximately $1.10 billion in 2020. By 2025, this cost is expected to grow to an additional $1.30 billion per year. Increases in the cost of the program translate to an increase in the premium rate paid by employees and employers in Canada. Therefore, the increase in the duration of benefits is expected to raise the employee premium rate by a total of 6-cents from the baseline rate of $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings.