Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners may issue EI Compassionate Care Certificates in Ontario


July 4, 2017 / Toronto / Ontarians who need to take compassionate leave to take care of gravely ill family members will no longer be disqualified from receiving compassionate benefits simply because their loved ones are treated by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners  as opposed to western medical doctors.

Under the Employment Insurance (EI) regulations, medical certificates for EI Compassionate Care Benefits may only be issued by “a member of a prescribed class of medical practitioners” whose qualifications are equivalent to a medical doctor in Canada.

The Employment Insurance Commission (EI Commission) had previously taken the position that TCM practitioners did not fall into the prescribed class of medical practitioners and therefore could not issue medical certificates for EI Compassionate Care benefits.

The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC) challenged this interpretation of the regulation by appealing a benefits refusal decision to the Social Security Tribunal – General Division.  CSALC was representing a client whose mother in China was receiving palliative care in a TCM hospital.  The client’s application for compassionate benefits was initially denied by the EI Commission.

After receiving notice from the clinic that it would launch a constitutional challenge that the decision discriminated against the client on the basis of national origin and violated her rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the EI Commission decided to consent to the appeal.

In a recently released, the Social Security Tribunal found that TCM practitioners did in fact fall within the prescribed class of medical practitioners that could issue medical certificates.

In coming to this conclusion, the Social Security Tribunal stated that since “Traditional Chinese medicine is a regulated profession in both China and Ontario, it should be recognised as such by the Commission”.

TCM is a regulated health profession in the province of Ontario governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 S.O. 1991, c.18 and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006 S.O. 2006, c. 27. 

This decision means that going forward, practitioners of TCM will be able to complete medical certificates for EI Compassionate Care benefits for claimants who live in Ontario and whose family members are receiving TCM treatment.


For more information, please contact:


Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic