01/05/2013 13:52 EST | Updated 03/07/2013 05:12 EST

N.S. mom praises extended EI for families of sick kids

One woman from New Waterford, N.S. is celebrating a victory after the federal government announced it will extend employment insurance benefits for those who are taking care of seriously ill children.

Valerie Loveys' daughter Stephanie died of cancer in 2008.

Loveys said she tried to collect EI benefits while her daughter went through treatment. She was only offered six weeks of compassionate leave.

She said she's been fighting ever since so that parents could be with their children and not have to work at such a critical time in their lives.

"There are children in the hospital alone receiving treatment three-year-olds, five-year-old, because there is no funding for parents with critically ill children," Loveys said.

The new benefit, promised during the 2011 election campaign, provides income support for up to 35 weeks so parents can take care of their critically sick child.

Fighting for more time

Alyson Queen, spokeswoman for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, said Bill C-44 is important to families.

"Whether it's time to be home with their child or some of the other responsibilities that come with being a parent at a such a difficult time they will have financial support from the government as well through the EI program," she said.

Loveys worked closely with her MP Mark Eyking to press for the changes.

Eyking said benefits should be even longer than 35 weeks, but said it's a good start.

"It's a little too late for her because she went through the whole process, but it is a victory and she was a big part of this victory and we got to keep fighting for anybody that's sick or taking care of a loved one whose sick they should get at least 50 weeks," she said.

The changes in employment insurance benefits are expected to be in place by June.