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Private programs


Sick leave

This employer-funded benefit provides income to employees who are unable to work because of sickness or injury. It is usually limited to a certain number of days or hours per year. Sick leave is not required by law and is given at the discretion of the employer or negotiated in a union contract.

Short-term disability (private)

Partial wage replacement through an employer or insurance company is typically provided to those who have been off work for a short period of time. Short-term disability plans may have provisions that allow the insurance company to decide whether to offer funding support for services to help with vocational rehabilitation.

It’s important to note that short- and long-term disability is an optional benefit funded either by the employer, the union or by self-pay. Some short-term disability programs offer earlier intervention vocational rehabilitation support.

For more information, see Episodic Disability Employment Network Fact Sheet #2 (PDF).

Long-term disability (private)

Ask your employer or insurance company if you have long-term disability insurance. Typically, this insurance partially replaces the wages of those who have been off work for an extended period and who provide medical evidence of their inability to work. Depending on the plan, the definition of disability and eligibility for wage replacement varies, and it may change over time. Many plans pay part of your wages if you cannot work in your former job. This is called the “own occupation” period. After 1 or 2 years, however, they will assess if you can do any work. This is called the “any occupation” period. For additional information, see the Guide to disability insurance. Some insurance plans have provisions for permanent part-time disability.

Cancer survivors should not assume that insurance-provided support is standard and that it may go on indefinitely. It is important to review the insurance policy to determine changes in definitions for eligibility and, if you feel you will not be able to return to your former occupation, it is important to ask the insurance company for vocational rehabilitation support and, if indicated, retraining during the “own occupation” period. This way, you will be ready to work in a different occupation by the time the any occupation period starts. Anticipating these changes early may avoid job loss and financial burden. For more information, see Episodic Disability Employment Network Fact Sheet #3 (PDF).

Applying for long-term disability

To find out what you can do to apply for long-term disability insurance benefits, please see Navigating your Long-Term Disability Claim by Ella Forbes-Chilibeck posted on the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network website.

Navigating your long-term disability claim

At some point in your claim, your long-term disability provider may ask you to apply for a Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) Benefit. This will allow them to offset their costs and you will likely be expected to sign off so that the CPP-D Benefit goes to them or the amount you receive from the CPP-D will be deducted from your long-term disability payment.

People receiving private insurance (long- and short-term disability) should consider asking for vocational rehabilitation support. Vocational rehabilitation services may include assessment, planning and rehabilitative support with the goal of safely returning an individual to work. The availability and degree of support varies depending on the mandate of these services.

For more information, see Long Term Disability Insurance: Support for Longer Absences from Work from the Episodic Disabilities Employment Network.

In many situations, access to vocational rehabilitation support needs to be specifically requested as a referral does not happen automatically. If your physician feels you would benefit from such support, they can make this recommendation and the private insurance providers will decide if they will fund this service. In many cases, insurance providers will have a vocational rehabilitation counsellor first assess the need for such a service. In some cases, a case manager handling the claim will initiate services to vocational rehabilitation. See Tips for Working with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor.