Nova Scotia woman living with cancer calls for extended EI benefits

The woman has created a petition seeking consideration for those with serious illnesses

Nova Scotia woman living with cancer calls for extended EI benefits
A woman from Nova Scotia fighting breast cancer is seeking changes to employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

Erin Richard, originally from Sydney, is suffering from aggressive stage-four breast cancer, according to CTV News. She has been undergoing a range of treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, lymph node removal surgery, and a mastectomy. Because of all these procedures, she has been unable to work.

“The doctor suggested I take about a year off work to get all these treatments and surgery and recovery done,” Richard told the news outlet.

Her husband was laid off from his job as a labourer 15 weeks ago. At the same time, Richard’s EI benefits ran out. “I tried to be as calm as I could because it's stressful enough doing all of the treatments,” she said.

She has started a petition asking that the time period for EI benefits be extended to 40-50 weeks in cases like hers, wherein a serious illness prevents someone from going to work for an extended period. She is also asking that changes be made to the Canada Pension and Disability Benefits Plan so that people coming back from illnesses can more easily transition back into work.

“Too many people can't pay their bills, are losing their homes, are stressing out,” she said. “They can't relax and try to deal with their treatments for cancer.”

Richard is taking the petition, which has garnered 560 signatures so far, before parliament on Sept. 18. The Nova Scotia Health Authority is currently interviewing cancer sufferers like Richard whose EI benefits have run out as part of a study on the issue.

Related stories:
Patients lost in Canadian healthcare maze turn to private consultants
Employment insurance poll reveals call centre shortfalls