Changes to a federal program aimed at helping parents who have lost a child as a result of abduction or crime will provide easier access and more money.Social Development Minister Jean−Yves Duclos says the new Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime will replace a former grant with similar intentions which was introduced in 2013.
The goal of the program is to provide financial support to parents who take time off work to grieve the loss of a child who went missing or was murdered. Duclos says the changes, which will go into effect in the fall, will make the program more accessible, generous and flexible. He says the government will raise the age limit for young victims of crime to 25 from 18, which he says will cover more families who need support.
The benefit to parents will increase by $100, so parents can take home $450 a week for up to 35 weeks and will be able to work up to 20 hours a week and keep full benefits. They will be eligible to receive the grant in the two years immediately following the incident, up from the existing one−year limit. The government is also axing a requirement that parents of a child 14 or under attest that he or she was not willingly involved in the crime. Parents will not be eligible for the grant if the child was a willing participant in the fatal crime, Duclos said.
The former program spent less than one per cent of its annual $10−million budget on grants, which Duclos blamed on strict eligibility criteria and a lack of public awareness. He said that program had the potential to reach about 100 families a year and he believes the changes will triple that number.
The government is also updating the federal labour code to protect employees from losing their jobs within the two year period.