The federal government is bringing in new rules to help families of gravely ill or injured children.

Legislation to be tabled this week called the Helping Families in Need Act will allow parents whose children develop serious diseases such as cancer to collect Employment Insurance benefits for up to 35 weeks.

There will also be amendments to the Canada Labour Code to protect the jobs of parents who take leaves of absence to care for critically ill children.

As well, the bill would allow unpaid leaves for parents of children under 18 who disappear or die as a result of a crime. Those families will also be entitled to a grant of $350 per week for up to 35 weeks.

“Our government is delivering on its commitment to further support hardworking Canadian families when they need it most,” Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said in a news release.

“By tabling the Helping Families in Need Act, our government will ensure that the Employment Insurance program remains fair and flexible and helps relieve the financial pressure on families during difficult times.”

Parents will also be able to access EI sickness benefits if they themselves fall ill while collecting EI parental benefits.

Around 6,000 Canadians a year will be affected by the changes, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised he’d deliver during last year’s election campaign.