Quantifying Employment Insurance Benefits (8:VI)

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A. Benefit Rate

The benefit rate is set out in s 14 of the EI Act. It is:

  • 55% of the worker’s weekly insurable earnings (see next section)
  • If (1) the claimant or the spouse of the claimant has dependants and (2) the benefit rate of 55 percent amounts to less than $225 a week or the family income is less than $25,921, then the claimant may also be entitled to a family supplement.

In 2015, the current ceiling for the maximum weekly benefits is $524 per week. Always check Service Canada’s “Employment Insurance Regular Benefits” webpage to ensure this information is up-to-date at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/sew/weekly_benefits.shtml. The maximum yearly insurable amount is currently 39,000, according to s4 of the EI Act.

B. Weekly Insurable Earnings

A claimant’s weekly insurable earnings are their insurable earnings in the calculation period divided by the number of weeks in the calculation period.

1. The Calculation Period

The calculation period is the number of weeks, consecutive or not, determined based on the applicable regional rate of unemployment as below, in which the claimant received the highest insurable earnings.

Regional Rate of Unemployment Number of Weeks
not more than 6% 22
more than 6% but not more than 7% 21
more than 7% but not more than 8% 20
more than 8% but not more than 9% 19
more than 9% but not more than 10% 18
more than 10% but not more than 11% 17
more than 11% but not more than 12% 16
more than 12% but not more than 13% 15
more than 13% 14

2. Insurable Earnings

Insurable earnings include:

  • Insurable earnings from insurable employment including employment that has not ended
  • Insurable earnings paid or payable to the claimant during the qualifying period by reason of lay-off or separation from employment, unless the lay-off or separation from employment occurred during the qualifying period.

C. Effect of Earnings

The benefit payable to a claimant may be reduced if the claimant has “earnings” during the benefit period. It may be possible both to work part-time and receive EI benefits at the same time, but all income must be reported on the report cards.

The Employment Insurance (EI) Working While on Claim pilot project is a way to help claimants stay connected with the labour market (EIR ss 77.95-77.96). The three-year pilot project began August 5,2012 and runs until August 1, 2015. The government’s 2015 budget proposes to extend this pilot project to August 2016. It applies to claimants earning money while collecting any of the following types of EI benefits:

  • regular benefits
  • fishing benefits
  • parental benefits
  • compassionate care benefits

As soon as a claimant completes the two-week EI waiting period, the pilot project will automatically apply to any money the claimant earns while the claimant is collecting EI benefits.

How it works

The Commission sets a threshold which is 90% of the claimant weekly insurable earnings. Below this threshold, for every dollar a claimant earns 50 cents will be deducted from their benefits. Above this threshold, a dollar of benefits will be deducted for every dollar earned.

Example from Service Canada Website:

Christine’s weekly insurable earnings are $800. Her earnings threshold would therefore be $720 ($800 x .90 = $720). If Christine is collecting EI benefits based on weekly insurable earnings of $800, the equivalent of 50% would be deducted from her earnings and EI benefits, until those earnings reach $720 (the earnings threshold). Any money Christine earns in addition to the $720 (the earnings threshold) will be deducted from her EI benefits dollar for dollar. Important reminders

If a claimant is receiving EI sickness benefits or EI maternity benefits, this pilot project does not apply. Any earnings the claimant has will continue to be deducted dollar for dollar from benefits. If the claimant works a full working week, the claimant will not receive any EI benefits, regardless of the amount the claimant earns.

The table below compares the previous method (ended on August 4, 2012) of calculating EI payments with the pilot-project method:

Comparison table ofthe previous pilot project and the new pilot project