Difference between revisions of "Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits (No. 282)"

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{{REVIEWEDPLS | reviewer = [https://eralaw.ca/about-us/mark-w-hundleby/ Mark Hundleby], ERA Law|date= June 2018}} {{Dial-A-Law TOC|expanded = work}}
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In Canada, the government offers financial support to people who are without work. Learn whether you are eligible for '''Employment Insurance benefits''', and the steps to '''apply for benefits'''.
  
{{Dial-A-Law TOC|expanded = employment}}
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==Understand your legal rights==
==What are Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits?==
 
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are temporary payments to people who lose their jobs, are between jobs, or cannot work for various reasons. For example, they may be sick or looking after a sick family member. They may be pregnant or have a new baby.
 
  
The EI program is run by the federal government department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Its [http://www.esdc.gc.ca/ website] has general information, including a link to apply online.
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===Employment Insurance benefits help people who are without work===
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'''Employment Insurance benefits''' are temporary payments made to people who lose their job through no fault of their own. EI, as it’s often called, also offers help if you can’t work because of illness or injury. And it provides benefits for people who take time off to have a baby or care for family members who are ill or injured.
  
For detailed information on EI, including types of benefits available, how to apply, how much and how long you can collect, how to appeal an EI decision, and the ''Employment Insurance Act'', check the [http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/ Service Canada website]. click on “[http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/index.shtml Employment Insurance]”. The “[http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/faq/faq_index_individuals.shtml Frequently Asked Questions]” (FAQ) section is a good starting point. As well, the “[http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/digest/table_of_contents.shtml Employment Insurance Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles]” is important. ESDC uses this digest—and the law and regulations—when deciding on EI claims.
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The EI program is run by the federal government department [http://www.esdc.gc.ca/ Employment and Social Development Canada]. For detailed information on EI, including eligibility for various types of benefits and how to apply, see [http://canada.ca/ei canada.ca/ei] or call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.
  
You can also call Service Canada at 1.800.206.7218.
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===There are various types of benefits available===
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'''EI regular benefits''' are for people who lose their job through no fault of their own — for example, they were laid off. They must be available and able to work but unable to find a job.  
  
==Types of EI Benefits==
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In addition, there are other types of EI benefits available, including:
The type of benefit depends on the situation.
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*'''Maternity and parental benefits''' are for people who can’t work because they are pregnant, recently had a baby, are adopting a child, or are caring for a baby.
*'''Regular benefits''' are for people who lose their job through no fault of their own—for example, they were laid off. They have to be available and able to work but unable to find a job.
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*'''Sickness benefits''' are for people who can’t work because they are sick, injured, or quarantined.
*'''Maternity and parental benefits''' are for people who cannot work because they are pregnant, or recently had a baby, or are adopting a child or caring for a baby.
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*'''Family caregiver benefits''' are for people who can’t work because they’ve stepped away to care for or support a critically ill or injured family member.
*'''Sickness benefits''' are for people who cannot work because they are sick, injured, or quarantined.
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*'''Compassionate care benefits''' are for people who can’t work because they’ve stepped away to care for or support a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within six months.
*'''Compassionate care benefits''' are for people who cannot work because they are away from work temporarily to care for or support a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.
 
 
*'''Benefits for parents of critically ill children''' are for eligible parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured child.
 
*'''Benefits for parents of critically ill children''' are for eligible parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured child.
 
*'''Fishing benefits''' are for self-employed fishers who are actively seeking work.
 
*'''Fishing benefits''' are for self-employed fishers who are actively seeking work.
  
People living outside of Canada can receive benefits if their job is insured under the EI program. As of 2011, self-employed people can get special benefits (maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and parents of critically ill children) if they register and qualify. The script has more on this later.
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===Qualifying for Employment Insurance benefits===
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Under the [http://canlii.ca/t/7vtf law in Canada], you may qualify for “regular benefits” under Employment Insurance if all of the following apply to you:
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*You paid into Employment Insurance as a worker.
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*You worked for the minimum number of hours during the “qualifying period”. The qualifying period is the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter. The minimum number of hours is [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/eligibility.html between 420 and 700 hours], depending on where you live.
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*You lost your job through no fault of your own. (You will not qualify for EI benefits if you quit your last job, unless you can prove you quit for a good reason.)
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*You’ve been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks.
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*You’ve run out of any vacation or severance pay you received.
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*You are ready, willing and capable of working, and are actively looking for work.
  
Service Canada's [http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/index.shtml website] has more on benefit types.
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The qualifying period can be extended up to 104 weeks if you couldn’t work because you were ill, injured, or pregnant (among other reasons). A longer qualifying period helps if you haven’t worked enough hours in the normal qualifying period. You have to ask for an extension.  
  
==Can you get EI?==
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The Service Canada website at [http://canada.ca/ei canada.ca/ei] explains who qualifies for the various other types of EI benefits, and how to apply.  
'''Regular benefits'''—you can get regular benefits if all the following things apply to you:
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#You lost your job through no fault of your own, for example, you were laid off. If you quit or were fired, you may not be able to collect—it depends on why you quit or were fired. If you had a good reason to quit—for example, you were harassed—you may still be able to collect EI. You need legal advice in these types of cases. If you are taking part in a labour dispute, such as a strike or lockout, you may not be able to collect EI.
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===How much you might get===
#You paid EI premiums when you worked.
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The amount of Employment Insurance you receive is determined by how much you’ve been earning and where you live. For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. The maximum amount changes over time. Check the [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/benefit-amount.html Service Canada website] for the current figure.
#You have been without work and pay for at least 7 days in a row in the last 52 weeks.
 
#You are ready, willing, and capable of working each day.
 
#You are actively looking for work—you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them.
 
#You worked the required number of insurable hours in the “qualifying period”. This is the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or the time since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter. The number of insurable hours required varies between 420 and 700 depending on where you live and the unemployment rate in your economic region when you apply. If you are new to the workforce or have been out of the workforce for 2 or more years, you may need at least 910 hours of insurable work in the qualifying period.
 
  
:ESDC can extend the qualifying period up to 104 weeks if you could not work because you were:
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In calculating your EI benefits, the government considers your gross earnings (before deductions), including tips and commissions. EI benefits are taxable income, so taxes are deducted.
  
:#ill, injured, quarantined, or pregnant, or
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EI benefits are based on your highest weeks of earnings over the qualifying period (usually 52 weeks). Your benefits are calculated over a set number of weeks. That number can range from 14 to 22 weeks, depending on the [http://srv129.services.gc.ca/eiregions/eng/rates_cur.aspx unemployment rate in your region].  
:#in jail or penitentiary, or
 
:#attending an instructional course that esdc sent you on.
 
  
:A longer qualifying period helps if you haven’t worked enough hours in the normal qualifying period—you can count hours you worked more than 52 weeks ago. You have to ask for an extension and show that you are in one of these categories.
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You can get more if you are in a low-income family or otherwise qualify for a '''family supplement'''.  
  
:You also need at least 490 hours as a member of the labour force during the “labour force attachment period”—the 52 weeks right before the qualifying period. Being a member of the labour force means that you worked or received earnings, benefits, or compensation; participated in an approved training or other program; served a waiting period; or participated in a labour dispute.
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====Your benefits may be reduced if you earn certain income====
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Your EI benefits may be reduced if you earn other types of income during your benefit period. These include:
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*Pension income from the Canada Pension Plan or a provincial pension plan.
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*Pension income from employment (unless you’ve worked at another job long enough, after the pension starts, to qualify for EI).
 +
*Money awarded by a court for wrongful dismissal.
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*Severance pay.
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*“Callback pay”, which is money your employer pays you to come back to work for a short period after your employment has ended.
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*Self-employment income.
  
'''Other benefits'''—different rules apply to maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and fishing cases. The Service Canada website explains them.
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====Other types of income won’t lower your EI benefits====
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You can earn other types of income without having your EI benefits reduced. These include pension income from an RRSP or RRIF, the Old Age Security pension, or disability benefits.
  
==How and when should you apply for EI?==
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==Apply for EI benefits==
You have to apply online (on the Service Canada website) or in person at a local Service Canada office.
 
  
Apply for EI as soon as you stop working—even if your last employer pays you severance or termination pay, when your job ends. Don’t wait until the severance period ends to apply for EI.
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===Step 1. Gather your information===
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Before applying for Employment Insurance benefits, collect all the documents and information you’ll need. These include:
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*your Social Insurance Number
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*your personal identification (for example, your driver’s licence or passport)
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*your bank information for direct deposit
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*details of your most recent employment (including your salary and other benefits)
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*your detailed version of the circumstances of your leaving your job
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*your Record of Employment (ROE), a document that proves you were employed (you will need an ROE from each employer you worked for in the previous 52 weeks)
  
Don’t wait until the employer gives you your Record of Employment ('''ROE''' for short). Employers can issue the ROE electronically to Service Canada or in paper form. The ROE proves you were employed. Ask the employer how they will issue your ROE—if electronically, you don’t need a copy. If it’s a paper ROE, ask for a copy as soon as your job ends. If you worked for any other employers in the previous 52 weeks, you need an roe from each one.
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If you are claiming sickness benefits or benefits to allow you to care for someone, you’ll need to obtain a medical certificate in support.  
  
If an employer does not issue the ROE electronically or give you a paper form, the local Service Canada office can help you. You will have to fill out a form explaining how you tried to get it. You will also have to give other proof of employment, such as pay stubs, cancelled pay cheques, T4 slips, or work schedules.
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===Step 2. Submit the application===
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You should apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you receive money when you leave your job, and even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment. If you delay applying for more than four weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.
  
If you delay in applying for EI beyond 4 weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.
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You must apply for EI using an online application form. You can fill it out:
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*online at [http://www.canada.ca/ei canada.ca/ei]
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*at a [http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/tbsc-fsco/sc-hme.jsp?lang=eng Service Canada office]
  
==What information do you need to apply?==
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===Step 3. After you apply===  
*Your sin (social insurance number)—if your sin starts with a 9, you have to give proof of your immigration status and a work permit.
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If your application for EI benefits is approved, there may be a one-week “waiting period” for which you will not be paid.
*Your ROE (explained above).
 
*Personal identification if you apply in person (driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate).
 
*Your bank information for direct deposit.
 
*Details of your most recent employment, including salary before deductions (including tips and commissions, and amounts you will receive such as vacation and severance pay, pension, money instead of notice).
 
*Your detailed version of the facts—if you quit or were fired from any job in the last 52 weeks.
 
*If you are claiming sickness benefits, you need to supply a medical certificate saying how long your incapacity will probably last.
 
*If you are claiming compassionate care benefits, you need to provide a medical certificate saying the person you will be caring for has a serious medical condition with significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
 
*If you are applying for parents of critically ill children benefits, you need to provide a medical certificate saying that your child is critically ill or injured and requires your care or support.
 
  
If you are reactivating an existing claim, you may also have to provide:
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If your application is denied, Service Canada will contact you by letter or phone to explain why. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to ask for a reconsideration.  
*the salary before deductions for the last week you worked, including tips and commissions.
 
*any other amounts you received or will receive (for example, vacation pay, severance pay, pension payments, pay in lieu of notice, and other money).
 
  
==When will you know if your EI application is approved?==
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===Step 4. Request a reconsideration===  
If your application is approved, you should get your first payment within 28 days of when Service Canada received the application and the required documents. If your application is not approved, they will call or write you to explain why. You can appeal the decision, as this script explains later.
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If your application for EI benefits is denied, your first step to challenge the decision is to request a '''reconsideration'''. There is no cost to do this. You must submit your request to Service Canada within 30 days from when the decision was sent to you. If you miss the deadline, you must provide a reason why.
  
==How long is the waiting period?==
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To request a reconsideration, fill out the online [https://catalogue.servicecanada.gc.ca/apps/EForms/pdf/en/SC-INS5210.pdf request for reconsideration form]. Once you’ve filled it out, print, sign and mail the form to your regional Service Canada office noted on the form.
You don’t get benefits in the first 2 weeks of your claim, called the waiting period. Any income you earn then is deducted from your benefits and delays your claim. Income includes vacation pay, severance pay, retirement pay and leave credits, and most bonuses and gratuities. Retirement pensions don’t delay the start of a claim, but they are income and reduce benefits—unless you work long enough at another job, after the pension starts, to qualify for EI.
 
  
==How much will you get?==
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===Step 5. Appeal to the Social Security Tribunal===
The maximum weekly benefit as of January 1, 2016 is $537. Most people get 55% of their weekly average insurable earnings, up to a yearly maximum insurable amount. As of January 1, 2016, the maximum insurable amount is $50,800. Earnings include tips and commission and are before deductions. Benefits are taxable income, so taxes are deducted.
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If you disagree with the decision made on your request for reconsideration, you can appeal to the [http://www1.canada.ca/en/sst/index.html Social Security Tribunal]. This is a body similar to a court that hears appeals on pensions and benefits provided by the federal government.
  
Benefits are based on your highest weeks of earnings over the qualifying period, usually 52 weeks. The number of weeks used to calculate your benefits ranges from 14 to 22, depending on the unemployment rate in your [http://srv129.services.gc.ca/eiregions/eng/rates_cur.aspx EI economic region].
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You must submit your appeal within 30 days of receiving the reconsideration decision. The appeal must be in the [https://www1.canada.ca/en/sst/forms.html prescribed form]. Service Canada has more information about how to appeal on its [http://www1.canada.ca/en/sst/ei/howto.html website].
  
You can get more if you are in a low-income family (annual income under $25,921) with children and you or your spouse receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Then you can get the Family Supplement (explained on the Service Canada website).
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The tribunal will consider your appeal. They may hold a hearing, which could happen by teleconference, in person, or in writing. The tribunal will make a decision on your appeal and send you the decision in writing.
  
These amounts are based on Service Canada’s website as of May 2016. Rates change because they are reviewed each year, so check that website for current rates. Click “Employment Insurance” and then “Employment Insurance Regular Benefits”.
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If you disagree with the tribunal’s decision on your appeal, you can ask for “leave” (permission) to make a further appeal to the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal.
  
EI benefits can be reduced if you receive other income during your benefit period, including:
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==Common questions==
*pension income from the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan or a provincial pension plan.
 
*pension income from employment, including military service or police work—unless you work long enough at another job, after the pension *starts, to qualify for EI.
 
*damages and interest for wrongful dismissal.
 
*severance pay.
 
*callback pay.
 
*a partial payment of an amount owed.
 
*self-employment income.
 
  
But some other types of income do not affect your regular benefits, including:
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===Can I work part-time and still get EI?===
*pension payments from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a registered retirement income fund (RRIF).
+
Yes, up to a point. If you earn money while receiving EI benefits, you can keep 50 cents of your benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of your previous weekly earnings (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.
*disability pensions.
 
*survivor or dependant benefits.
 
*additional voluntary contributions to a pension fund.
 
*the Old Age Security pension.
 
*the part of a pension payable to a spouse in a legal separation or divorce.
 
*a pension paid by Veterans Affairs Canada.
 
*spousal support
 
  
==Might you have to repay some EI?==
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You must report any income you earn while you’re receiving EI. You need to submit your report and declare your earnings [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-internet-reporting.html online] each week.  
Yes. After you file your tax return, you may have to repay part of the EI benefits you received. It depends on your net income and the amount of EI benefits you received.
 
  
==How long can you collect EI?==
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You are not eligible to receive EI benefits if you work a full week, regardless of the amount you earn.
You can get EI regular benefits for a period ranging from 14 to 45 weeks. The number of weeks is based on the unemployment rate in your region and the number of insurable hours you worked in the qualifying period.
 
  
You have to claim the EI within a 52-week period, called the “benefit period”. ESDC can extend the benefit period up to 104 weeks if you didn’t get EI for part of the period because of one of the following cases:
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===Can I get EI if I’m self-employed?===
*You were collecting workers’ compensation.
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Yes. Under the [https://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-1996-c-23/latest/sc-1996-c-23.html#sec152.01subsec1_smooth law in Canada], self-employed workers can get special benefits in some cases. To be eligible, you must:
*You were in jail.
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*be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
*You received severance pay.
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*register with the government (by signing an agreement),
*Your newborn or newly adopted child was hospitalized, or you were pregnant or breastfeeding and stopped working for your child’s health (and as a result, got provincial benefits).
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*operate your own business, or work for a corporation but control more than 40% of the voting shares, and
 
 
You have to apply to extend the benefit period—it’s not automatic. An extension does not increase the total EI you get.
 
 
 
==Can you work and still get EI regular and other benefits?==
 
Yes. You can work part-time while receiving regular, fishing, parental, and compassionate care benefits. You must report anything you earn while you get EI. Under a pilot project, called “[http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/information/wwc.shtml Working While on Claim]”, you can keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of your weekly insurable earnings. The 90% amount is called the earnings threshold. Any amount that you earn above the threshold is deducted from your benefits. This pilot project runs until August 6, 2016.
 
 
 
These amounts can change, so check the Service Canada website for current figures.
 
 
 
You can’t work full-time and receive benefits.
 
 
 
==Can you leave Canada temporarily and still get EI regular benefits?==
 
Usually, you cannot receive regular benefits while you are out of Canada. But you can receive regular benefits if you show that you are available for work in Canada while abroad, and you tell your local Service Canada Centre that you will be away temporarily.
 
 
 
You can be outside Canada for up to 7 consecutive days to do one of the following things:
 
*attend the funeral of a member of your immediate family or a close relative.
 
*accompany a member of your immediate family to a medical facility, if the treatment sought is not readily available where the family member lives in Canada.
 
*visit a member of your immediate family who is seriously ill or injured.
 
*attend a bona fide (legitimate) job interview.
 
 
 
You can also be outside of Canada for up to 14 days in a row for a legitimate job search.
 
 
 
==Can you work or live outside Canada and still get EI?==
 
If you work outside Canada for a Canadian company or the Canadian government, you are usually eligible for EI, but not if your job is covered by a similar program in the country you are working in.
 
 
 
If you live outside Canada, you may be eligible for some types of EI in certain cases. You may also be eligible if you live in Canada or the United States and regularly cross the Canada/U.S. border between your home and workplace.
 
 
 
The Service Canada website has details on these cases.
 
 
 
==What must you do while you get EI regular benefits?==
 
File a report every 2 weeks with HRSDC (on the internet, or by phone or mail) to show your are still eligible to receive benefits. The report must say if you:
 
*were outside Canada during the report period.
 
*worked or received earnings, including earnings from self-employment.
 
*started a full-time job.
 
*attended school or a training course.
 
*were ready, willing, and capable of working each day.
 
*received or will receive any other money.
 
 
 
Check the Service Canada website for what to do if you get other types of benefits.
 
 
 
==Can you get EI if you are self-employed?==
 
Yes, as of January 2011, self-employed people can get EI special benefits in some cases (described on the Service Canada website). Special benefits consist of maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and parents of critically ill children benefits. To be eligible, self-employed people must:
 
*be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
 
*register with the government (by signing an agreement).
 
*operate their own business or work for a corporation but can’t get EI benefits because they control more than 40% of the corporation’s voting shares.
 
 
*wait 12 months after registering.
 
*wait 12 months after registering.
  
==Is other EI help available?==
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There are six types of EI special benefits available to self-employed workers. The [https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/self-employed-special-benefits.html Service Canada website] describes them in detail, and has instructions on how to apply.  
Starting in July 2010, '''Canadian Forces members’''' eligibility (benefit) period was extended by one week for every week they could not collect all their parental benefits (in the regular eligibility period) because military service interrupted their parental leave. Details are on the Service Canada website, under the “Employment Insurance Initiatives” section.
 
 
 
==Can you appeal an EI decision?==
 
Yes—you can appeal EI decisions. So can employers.
 
 
 
'''Reconsideration by EI Commission'''—if you disagree with an EI decision (for example, if they refused your application for benefits), the first step is to ask for a '''reconsideration'''. The EI Commission will review the decision in your case. There is no cost, but you have to request the reconsideration within 30 days of receiving the EI decision. The EI Commission may allow more time if you have a reasonable explanation for why you missed the deadline.
 
  
During a reconsideration, Service Canada will:
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===What must I do while receiving EI benefits?===
*review any new information you provided.
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While you are receiving EI benefits, you must submit a report every two weeks to show you're still eligible to receive benefits. You can submit your report:
*review the original decision and all relevant information on file.
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*online, using the federal government’s [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-internet-reporting.html Internet Reporting Service]
*do more fact-finding and clarify all discrepancies or contradictions with all interested parties such as you, the employer, and anyone else with information on the case.
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*by phone, using the [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-telephone-reporting.html Telephone Reporting Service] at 1-800-531-7555
*obtain all relevant documents such as contract of employment or other relevant document.
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*by filling out and submitting a [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-paper-reports.html paper copy]
*ensure the evidence and reason supporting the decision are well documented.
 
*assess all information on the issue.
 
*ensure the decision is consistent with the law and earlier decisions.
 
  
More details on the reconsideration process are available [http://www.ei.gc.ca/eng/reconsideration.shtml here].
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===How long can I collect EI?===
 +
You can get regular EI benefits for a period ranging from 14 to 45 weeks. The exact period depends on the [http://srv129.services.gc.ca/eiregions/eng/postalcode_search.aspx unemployment rate in your region], and the number of insurable hours you worked in the qualifying period.  
  
'''Appeal to Social Security Tribunal'''—if you disagree with the result of the reconsideration, you can file an appeal with the Social Security Tribunal of Canada. This new tribunal replaces the previous EI appeal process and is independent from the EI Commission. The [http://www.canada.ca/en/sst/ Tribunal website] explains the appeal process.
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This [http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-5.6/page-38.html#h-72 chart] can help you figure out how long you’re eligible to collect.
  
'''Tribunal’s General Division'''—you have to file an appeal with the Social Security Tribunal’s General Division within 30 days of receiving the reconsideration decision. The Tribunal can dismiss an appeal or hold a hearing to assess the merits of it. Hearings can be by writing, phone, videoconference, or in person.
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===Might I have to repay some EI?===
 +
Yes. After you file your income tax return, you may have to repay part of the EI benefits you received. It depends on your net income and the amount of EI benefits you received.
  
'''Tribunal’s Appeal Division'''—if you disagree with a decision of the Tribunal’s General Division, in some cases you can file an appeal with the Tribunal’s Appeal Division. But you need permission from the Tribunal to do this. And you have to file an appeal within 30 days of receiving the General Division’s decision.
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===Can I leave Canada temporarily and still get EI benefits?===
 +
In some circumstances, you can leave Canada and still receive Employment Insurance benefits.
  
 +
While traveling abroad, your EI benefits won’t be interrupted if you’re outside of Canada for '''up to seven consecutive days''' to do one of the following:
 +
*Attend the funeral of a member of your immediate family or a close relative.
 +
*Accompany a member of your immediate family to a medical facility, if the treatment isn’t available where they live in Canada.
 +
*Visit a member of your immediate family who is seriously ill or injured.
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*Attend a job interview.
  
[updated May 2016]
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You can also be outside of Canada for up to 14 days in a row if you’re looking for a job.
  
'''The above was last reviewed for accuracy by Dana Quantz and edited by John Blois.'''
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===Can I work or live outside Canada and still get EI?===
 +
Typically, if you work outside of Canada for a Canadian company or the Canadian government, you’re eligible for EI benefits. However, you can’t collect EI benefits if your job is covered by a similar program in the country you’re working in.  
  
----
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If you live outside Canada, you may be eligible for some types of EI in certain cases. As well, you may be eligible if you live in Canada or the US and regularly cross the Canada/US border between your home and workplace.
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 +
The [https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/outside-canada.html Service Canada website] has more information about EI for workers and residents outside of Canada.
  
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Latest revision as of 14:18, 29 March 2019

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Mark Hundleby, ERA Law in June 2018.

In Canada, the government offers financial support to people who are without work. Learn whether you are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits, and the steps to apply for benefits.

Understand your legal rights[edit]

Employment Insurance benefits help people who are without work[edit]

Employment Insurance benefits are temporary payments made to people who lose their job through no fault of their own. EI, as it’s often called, also offers help if you can’t work because of illness or injury. And it provides benefits for people who take time off to have a baby or care for family members who are ill or injured.

The EI program is run by the federal government department Employment and Social Development Canada. For detailed information on EI, including eligibility for various types of benefits and how to apply, see canada.ca/ei or call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.

There are various types of benefits available[edit]

EI regular benefits are for people who lose their job through no fault of their own — for example, they were laid off. They must be available and able to work but unable to find a job.

In addition, there are other types of EI benefits available, including:

  • Maternity and parental benefits are for people who can’t work because they are pregnant, recently had a baby, are adopting a child, or are caring for a baby.
  • Sickness benefits are for people who can’t work because they are sick, injured, or quarantined.
  • Family caregiver benefits are for people who can’t work because they’ve stepped away to care for or support a critically ill or injured family member.
  • Compassionate care benefits are for people who can’t work because they’ve stepped away to care for or support a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death within six months.
  • Benefits for parents of critically ill children are for eligible parents who take time off work to care for their critically ill or injured child.
  • Fishing benefits are for self-employed fishers who are actively seeking work.

Qualifying for Employment Insurance benefits[edit]

Under the law in Canada, you may qualify for “regular benefits” under Employment Insurance if all of the following apply to you:

  • You paid into Employment Insurance as a worker.
  • You worked for the minimum number of hours during the “qualifying period”. The qualifying period is the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter. The minimum number of hours is between 420 and 700 hours, depending on where you live.
  • You lost your job through no fault of your own. (You will not qualify for EI benefits if you quit your last job, unless you can prove you quit for a good reason.)
  • You’ve been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks.
  • You’ve run out of any vacation or severance pay you received.
  • You are ready, willing and capable of working, and are actively looking for work.

The qualifying period can be extended up to 104 weeks if you couldn’t work because you were ill, injured, or pregnant (among other reasons). A longer qualifying period helps if you haven’t worked enough hours in the normal qualifying period. You have to ask for an extension.

The Service Canada website at canada.ca/ei explains who qualifies for the various other types of EI benefits, and how to apply.

How much you might get[edit]

The amount of Employment Insurance you receive is determined by how much you’ve been earning and where you live. For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. The maximum amount changes over time. Check the Service Canada website for the current figure.

In calculating your EI benefits, the government considers your gross earnings (before deductions), including tips and commissions. EI benefits are taxable income, so taxes are deducted.

EI benefits are based on your highest weeks of earnings over the qualifying period (usually 52 weeks). Your benefits are calculated over a set number of weeks. That number can range from 14 to 22 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in your region.

You can get more if you are in a low-income family or otherwise qualify for a family supplement.

Your benefits may be reduced if you earn certain income[edit]

Your EI benefits may be reduced if you earn other types of income during your benefit period. These include:

  • Pension income from the Canada Pension Plan or a provincial pension plan.
  • Pension income from employment (unless you’ve worked at another job long enough, after the pension starts, to qualify for EI).
  • Money awarded by a court for wrongful dismissal.
  • Severance pay.
  • “Callback pay”, which is money your employer pays you to come back to work for a short period after your employment has ended.
  • Self-employment income.

Other types of income won’t lower your EI benefits[edit]

You can earn other types of income without having your EI benefits reduced. These include pension income from an RRSP or RRIF, the Old Age Security pension, or disability benefits.

Apply for EI benefits[edit]

Step 1. Gather your information[edit]

Before applying for Employment Insurance benefits, collect all the documents and information you’ll need. These include:

  • your Social Insurance Number
  • your personal identification (for example, your driver’s licence or passport)
  • your bank information for direct deposit
  • details of your most recent employment (including your salary and other benefits)
  • your detailed version of the circumstances of your leaving your job
  • your Record of Employment (ROE), a document that proves you were employed (you will need an ROE from each employer you worked for in the previous 52 weeks)

If you are claiming sickness benefits or benefits to allow you to care for someone, you’ll need to obtain a medical certificate in support.

Step 2. Submit the application[edit]

You should apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you receive money when you leave your job, and even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment. If you delay applying for more than four weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.

You must apply for EI using an online application form. You can fill it out:

Step 3. After you apply[edit]

If your application for EI benefits is approved, there may be a one-week “waiting period” for which you will not be paid.

If your application is denied, Service Canada will contact you by letter or phone to explain why. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to ask for a reconsideration.

Step 4. Request a reconsideration[edit]

If your application for EI benefits is denied, your first step to challenge the decision is to request a reconsideration. There is no cost to do this. You must submit your request to Service Canada within 30 days from when the decision was sent to you. If you miss the deadline, you must provide a reason why.

To request a reconsideration, fill out the online request for reconsideration form. Once you’ve filled it out, print, sign and mail the form to your regional Service Canada office noted on the form.

Step 5. Appeal to the Social Security Tribunal[edit]

If you disagree with the decision made on your request for reconsideration, you can appeal to the Social Security Tribunal. This is a body similar to a court that hears appeals on pensions and benefits provided by the federal government.

You must submit your appeal within 30 days of receiving the reconsideration decision. The appeal must be in the prescribed form. Service Canada has more information about how to appeal on its website.

The tribunal will consider your appeal. They may hold a hearing, which could happen by teleconference, in person, or in writing. The tribunal will make a decision on your appeal and send you the decision in writing.

If you disagree with the tribunal’s decision on your appeal, you can ask for “leave” (permission) to make a further appeal to the Appeal Division of the Social Security Tribunal.

Common questions[edit]

Can I work part-time and still get EI?[edit]

Yes, up to a point. If you earn money while receiving EI benefits, you can keep 50 cents of your benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of your previous weekly earnings (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.

You must report any income you earn while you’re receiving EI. You need to submit your report and declare your earnings online each week.

You are not eligible to receive EI benefits if you work a full week, regardless of the amount you earn.

Can I get EI if I’m self-employed?[edit]

Yes. Under the law in Canada, self-employed workers can get special benefits in some cases. To be eligible, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
  • register with the government (by signing an agreement),
  • operate your own business, or work for a corporation but control more than 40% of the voting shares, and
  • wait 12 months after registering.

There are six types of EI special benefits available to self-employed workers. The Service Canada website describes them in detail, and has instructions on how to apply.

What must I do while receiving EI benefits?[edit]

While you are receiving EI benefits, you must submit a report every two weeks to show you're still eligible to receive benefits. You can submit your report:

How long can I collect EI?[edit]

You can get regular EI benefits for a period ranging from 14 to 45 weeks. The exact period depends on the unemployment rate in your region, and the number of insurable hours you worked in the qualifying period.

This chart can help you figure out how long you’re eligible to collect.

Might I have to repay some EI?[edit]

Yes. After you file your income tax return, you may have to repay part of the EI benefits you received. It depends on your net income and the amount of EI benefits you received.

Can I leave Canada temporarily and still get EI benefits?[edit]

In some circumstances, you can leave Canada and still receive Employment Insurance benefits.

While traveling abroad, your EI benefits won’t be interrupted if you’re outside of Canada for up to seven consecutive days to do one of the following:

  • Attend the funeral of a member of your immediate family or a close relative.
  • Accompany a member of your immediate family to a medical facility, if the treatment isn’t available where they live in Canada.
  • Visit a member of your immediate family who is seriously ill or injured.
  • Attend a job interview.

You can also be outside of Canada for up to 14 days in a row if you’re looking for a job.

Can I work or live outside Canada and still get EI?[edit]

Typically, if you work outside of Canada for a Canadian company or the Canadian government, you’re eligible for EI benefits. However, you can’t collect EI benefits if your job is covered by a similar program in the country you’re working in.

If you live outside Canada, you may be eligible for some types of EI in certain cases. As well, you may be eligible if you live in Canada or the US and regularly cross the Canada/US border between your home and workplace.

The Service Canada website has more information about EI for workers and residents outside of Canada.

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