09/20/2012 02:12 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST

Tories introduce EI changes to help ill parents and those with missing kids

OTTAWA - The Harper government is spelling out proposed changes to the employment insurance system to help parents of sick children.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has tabled legislation in the Commons that would provide EI benefits to such parents.

The Helping Families in Need Act, once law, will also change the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of parents who take a leave of absence to care for a critically ill child.

As well, new provisions under the Employment Insurance Act would make parents eligible for sickness benefits should they fall ill while collecting parental benefits.

The government expects the changes will affect roughly 6,000 people, providing them with up to 15 weeks of EI benefits.

The bill would also provide benefits to the parents of missing and murdered children and allow for unpaid leave for parents whose child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected criminal offence.