I've been turned down for Employment Insurance benefits
Employment Insurance (EI) may give one of these reasons for turning you down:
- You do not have enough hours of work to qualify. To get EI benefits, you must have worked a certain number of hours. You must have worked those hours in your qualifying period, which is usually the year before you apply.
- You were fired for just cause. (a good legal reason)
- You quit without just cause.
- You are not available for work (includes not actively looking for a job). You may not be able to get EI benefits until you are available for work.
- You made false statements to EI. You may have to repay some benefits and you may have to pay a penalty.
You can ask for a reconsideration and appeal any of these decisions
If you disagree with a decision made by Service Canada regarding your EI benefits, you have the right to request a reconsideration of that decision.
You can appeal (ask for a reconsideration of your claim) if EI:
- has refused you benefits
- says you have to repay benefits
- has given you a warning letter and/or a penalty
To request a reconsideration, complete the reconsideration form and mail it to the address provided on the form.
If you do not agree with the reconsideration decision, you can file an appeal with the Social Security Tribunal. Your appeal must be filed within 30 days of receiving your reconsideration decision.
If you disagree with the decision made by the Social Security Tribunal, you can appeal to the Social Security Tribunal's Appeal Division. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of receiving the appeal decision. You will have to request permission to file the appeal
What happens next
After you have filed your reconsideration, Service Canada will review your file and notify you of the decision. Each case is decided on its own merits. There are no oral hearings for this process.
Appeal to the General Division
Once you file your appeal, the Social Security Tribunal will send you a copy of your EI file. This file contains all the information EI used to make its decision.
A Social Security Tribunal (SST) member will review the EI file as well as your appeal form or letter and any other information you have provided.
The Social Security Tribunal member will decide one of two things:
- your appeal goes forward, or
- your appeal is dismissed.
The Social Security Tribunal member will send you the decision in writing.
If your appeal is dismissed, you can appeal that decision. See the section, Appeal to the Appeal Division
If your appeal goes forward
If your appeal goes forward, the Social Security Tribunal member will do one of two things: make a decision on the record, or hold a hearing.
- A decision on the record means the Tribunal member will decide based on the EI file and the materials you sent.
- If a hearing will take place, the Tribunal will contact you to schedule the hearing. You can present your own case, or you can arrange for someone such as a lawyer or an advocate or a friend to help you. See Where to get help to find someone who can help you.
After the hearing, the Tribunal member will make the decision, put it in writing and send you a copy.
Appeal to the Appeal Division
If you disagree with the decision, you can go to the second level of appeal at the Social Security Tribunal. This is called the Appeal Division.
You will need leave to appeal (permission to appeal) to this second level, unless you are appealing the General Division’s decision to dismiss your appeal.
You must file your appeal within 30 days of the day you got the decision from the General Division.
The Government of Canada's website provides a summary of the appeal process. Look under Employment Insurance Appeals – EI Appeal Division.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Service Canada, and particularly their resources on Employment Insurance: the EI Homepage, a section for Employment Insurance Appellants, and a collection of EI appeal decisions favouring workers.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- Community Legal Assistance Society.
- The Law Students' Legal Advice Program Manual chapter on "Employment Insurance."
Before you meet with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this guide. When you go to the meeting, make sure you take copies of all the documents about your case.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Trevor Thomas, November 2015.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|