The Employment Insurance (EI) program offers financial aid to eligible Canadians who are out of a job due to situations beyond their control. Canadian individuals who are taking time off work for one eligible reason or another may also be qualified to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
The EI offers different benefits to individuals depending on their residential province and situation. These benefits include regular, special, sickness, maternity and paternity benefits, among others. Each of these constituent benefits has its own set of eligibility conditions Canadians must meet in order to qualify. The present post addresses these eligibility requirements.
Employment Insurance (EI) Regular Benefits
The regular benefits from the Employment Insurance program are designed for Canadians who are unemployed or who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. For instance, it applies to Canadians who lost their job due to the mass lay-off of workers or to those able, eager, and available to work but who cannot find work.
Canadians are advised to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits as soon as they stop working or lose their jobs, whether or not they receive their employment records.
If you delay applying for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for more than four weeks after the day you lost your job, you may not receive any benefits.
Eligibility Requirements For Employment Insurance Regular Benefits
To be eligible to receive the EI regular benefits, you must:
- Prove that you were employed in insurable employment.
- Show that you were out of a job due to no fault of yours, such as if you were affected by natural disasters like flooding or wildfires.
- Show that you have no work and have not been paid for at least 7 consecutive days in the past 52 weeks.
- Show that you have accumulated the required amount of insurable employment hours during the last 52 weeks or during the period of your last EI benefit claim, whichever is shorter.
- Prove that you are willing, able, eager, and available to work every day.
- Show that you're an active job seeker.
For the last requirement, you have to keep a written record of the employers you contacted during your job search and when you contacted them.
You need to accumulate at least 420 hours of insurable employment to qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The number of hours that qualify as insurable work is the shorter period between:
- The last 52 weeks before you claimed EI benefits, and
- The period from the beginning of the previous benefit year to the beginning of the new benefit year if you had applied to receive your benefits earlier and your application was approved in the previous 52 weeks.
However, there are cases where the qualifying period may be up to a maximum of 104 weeks if you had no insurable employment or were not receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
Furthermore, you are expected to complete and submit reports every two weeks, either online or by telephone to show Service Canada that you are eligible for the benefits and to keep receiving benefit payments. You may lose your benefits if you do not submit your biweekly reports.
Disqualifying Conditions For Regular EI Benefits
You will not be qualified to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits if you:
- Voluntarily left your job without a “just cause”
- Were dismissed or sacked from your job due to misconduct
- Do not have a job because you're a part of a labour dispute such as a strike or lockout
- Did not in any way contribute or add to the Employment Insurance (EI) when you were in insurable employment
- Did not work for a certain period
- Are incarcerated in any confinement or correctional facility, such as a jail or penitentiary
In the latter case, if you were incarcerated but later found not guilty by a court of law, you will have to provide proof when applying for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. This will show all charges that led to your incarceration were dropped and that you're eligible to receive the EI benefit.
Employment Insurance (EI) Special Benefits For Self-Employed Individuals
The Employment Insurance program also provides benefits for self-employed Canadians. The program is designed for people who own or manage their businesses or own more than 40% of their corporation or company shares.
Eligible individuals will receive special benefits about 12 months after registering for the program.
You may also receive financial support of about 55% of your benefit earnings up to a maximum amount if you need to go on vacation or take some time off work to spend time with and care for yourself, your children, and your family members.
The maximum amount you may receive is $638 per week.
If you receive Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits, you will not receive EI regular benefits.
However, suppose you are a barber, fisherman, hairdresser, or drive a taxi or any other passenger vehicle. In that case, you don't have to apply for the EI special benefits for self-employed individuals. Instead, you should apply for Employment Insurance (EI) as an employee.
There are three types of EI special benefits. They include:
- EI sickness benefits
- EI maternity and parental benefits
- EI caregiving benefits
EI Sickness Benefits
Eligible individuals can receive financial assistance for about 15 weeks if they are unable to work due to a medical condition such as an injury, illness, or being quarantined.
You will have to provide a medical certificate showing that you cannot work due to your medical condition.
If you're pregnant and have some health complications, you may also qualify for maternity benefits if you meet the eligibility criteria.
In the case of sickness benefits, you may receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $638 per week.
Eligibility Requirements For The EI Sickness Benefits
To be eligible to receive the EI sickness benefits, you must:
- Show that you are not able to work due to a medical condition.
- Show that your regular weekly earnings have been reduced by more than 40% for one week or more.
- Prove that you put in the required insurable hours of work within 52 weeks before you filed to claim your benefits or since the beginning of your previous claim, whichever is shorter.
Additionally, if you file before September 24, 2022, you must have worked at least 420 insurable hours. If you file after that date, you must accrue 600 insurable hours or more.
The key requirement to receive the EI sickness benefits is that the cause of not being able to work is a medical condition. Therefore, you should have been able and available to work if you had no medical condition.
EI Maternity And Parental Benefits
The EI program also provides maternity and parental benefits to individuals who:
- Are taking time off work because they're pregnant or have recently given birth
- Are taking time away from work to provide care for their newborn baby or recently adopted child
The maternity benefits are provided only to individuals who are away from work due to pregnancy or because they have recently given birth. Only one parent can receive the benefit. Beneficiaries of the maternity benefits may also be eligible to receive parental benefits.
You may start receiving maternity benefits 12 weeks before your due date or the date you give birth. However, you will not receive the benefits more than 17 weeks after the date you give birth or your due date.
The Employment Insurance program offers parental benefits to parents of a newborn baby or newly adopted child.
Parents will have to choose to receive either the standard parental benefits or the extended parental benefits.
The type of parental benefits you choose will determine the number of weeks you receive benefit payments and the amount you will receive each week.
If both parents are applying to receive the EI parental benefits, both parents will have to choose the same option and submit their individual applications.
You and your spouse or common-law partner may receive your weekly benefits simultaneously or one after the other.
You do not have to receive your weekly EI parental benefits consecutively. However, you must receive them within specific periods beginning from the week of your child's birth or the week you adopted your child.
These specific periods are:
- For the standard parental benefits: within 12 months (52 weeks)
- For the extended parental benefits: within 18 months (78 weeks)
Before applying for the benefits, ensure that you choose the parental benefit (standard or extended) that best suits you. Once you start receiving benefit payments for your child's birth or adoption, you will not be able to change your option.
Eligibility Requirements For EI Maternity And Parental Benefits
The program is initially intended for Canadian citizens. However, if you're not a Canadian citizen but have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN), you may qualify to receive the EI maternity and parental benefits.
In either case, to qualify for EI maternity and parental benefits, you must:
- Demonstrate that you're pregnant or have given birth recently if you're applying to receive maternal benefits.
- Show that you are a parent and are caring for your newborn baby or newly adopted child if you're requesting parental benefits.
- Prove that your regular weekly work earnings have been reduced by more than 40% for at least one week.
- Show that you've worked a fair amount of insurable hours in the 52 weeks before you claimed your benefits or since the last time you claimed your benefits, whichever is shorter.
A fair amount of insurable hours means:
- At least 420 insurable hours if you filed before or on September 24, 2022.
- At least 600 insurable hours if you filed after September 24, 2022.
If you had a recent claim and received EI benefits within the past 52 weeks, you may not qualify for the maximum number of weeks of maternity or parental benefits.
However, if you have accumulated enough insured hours of work since your last claim, you will be able to start receiving the next round of benefits.
Health Issues During Pregnancy
If you fall sick or have any health complications during your pregnancy, you may be eligible to apply for the EI sickness benefits or to receive the maternity benefits earlier than normal.
EI Caregiving Benefits
EI also provides aid to workers who need to take some time off or away from work to care for a critically ill or injured person or a person in need of end-of-life care. In these cases, you may qualify to receive financial support from the Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefit program.
As a caregiver or someone providing care support, you do not have to be a relative or live with the person to whom you provide care support. However, they must treat you as and consider you to be a family member.
If you qualify for the benefit, you may receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum amount of $638 per week.
The EI caregiving benefit comes in 3 parts:
- Family caregiver benefits for children
- Family caregiver benefits for adults
- Compassionate care benefit
Family Caregiver Benefit For Children
This benefit is intended for individuals providing care and support to critically ill or injured persons under the age of 18 years. In this case, you may receive payments for a maximum of 35 weeks.
Family Caregiver Benefit For Adults
This benefit is designed for people providing care support to critically ill or injured persons 18 years or older. In this case, you may receive payments for a maximum of 15 weeks.
Compassionate Care Benefit
The compassionate care benefit is provided to individuals caring for persons of any age who require end-of-life care. In this case, you may receive payments for a maximum of 26 weeks.
You may receive your EI caregiving benefits within 52 weeks after the date when the person is certified by a medical practitioner to be critically ill, injured, or in need of end-of-life care. You may receive the benefits all at once or subsequently.
If there is more than one caregiver, the benefits weeks can be shared by the eligible caregivers at once or one after the other.
EI Caregiving Benefits Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the EI caregiving benefits, you must:
- Show that you are a family member or a relative of the person who is critically ill, injured, or in need of end-of-life care or that the person considers you a family member.
- Show that your regular weekly work earnings have been reduced by 40% for at least one week due to your taking time off work to care for your charge.
- Show that you put in the required number of insurable hours of work in the 52 weeks before you started claiming your benefits or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter.
As before, the required number of insurable hours are
- At least 420 insurable hours if you filed on or before September 24, 2022.
- At least 600 insurable hours if you filed after September 24, 2022.
Additionally, you must ensure that the person you're caring for has been certified by a medical practitioner to be critically ill, injured, or in need of end-of-life care.
For Non-Family Members
Suppose you are not a family member of the person you're caring for. In that case, the person or their legal representative (a lawyer, for example) must fill out an attestation form confirming that you are considered a family member. If the person is a child, the child's parent or legal guardian must sign the attestation form.
What If The Person I'm Caring For Isn't In Canada?
If the person you're providing care for resides outside Canada, you may still qualify to receive the EI caregiving benefit. You will still have to submit an application and the same supporting documentation as if the person you cared for lived in Canada.
Furthermore, the medical certificate that proves the person is critically ill, injured, or in need of end-of-life care will have to be signed by a medical practitioner in the country where the person resides.
Employment Insurance (EI) In Ontario
Employment Insurance may be different in different Canadian provinces. For example, in Ontario, the required number of insurable work hours needed to file for the benefit is 700 hours which is about 30 hours of work per week for 24 weeks.
If you are eligible for the EI benefits, you may receive above 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week. Additionally, you will receive payments for a minimum of 14 weeks and a maximum of 36 weeks.
How To Apply For EI In Ontario
As mentioned above, whether you live in Ontario or not, you should apply to receive your benefits as soon as you stop working or lose your job.
To apply for Employment Insurance benefits in Ontario, you must complete and submit an online application. Just follow the instructions on the website and the details given to complete your form. The process should take about 60 minutes.
The draft of your application form is saved on the server for up to three days (72 hours) and will be automatically deleted if you don't complete the process before then.
When applying to receive EI benefits in Ontario, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Your mother's maiden name
- Your mailing address, residential address, and postal code
- Your email address
- Your banking information, such as your bank's name, branch number, and account number (for direct deposit purposes)
- Your employment history for the last 52 weeks (employers' names, addresses, dates of employment, as well as the reason for your dismissal, quitting, or separation)
- The dates and salaries in your highest-paid weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks or since the beginning of your last EI claim
Other Important Things To Keep In Mind
Note that if your SIN begins with a 9, you must also provide proof of your immigration status and work permit.
This information is used together with your employment record to determine how much you may be eligible to receive for your benefit payment.
You should still apply for the benefit even if you do not have all the required documents, so you don't lose your benefits due to a delay.
If more information is needed by Service Canada and you cannot be contacted by phone, you will receive a toll-free number by email and will be asked to call the number so that you will provide Service Canada with the necessary information needed to pay your benefits.
What Happens After Applying?
After submitting your application, you will receive a confirmation email containing your benefit statement and your access code.
Once you finish the application process, you can review and view your application status via your My Service Canada Account.
This will help ensure that you have submitted all the required documents and provided all the necessary information.
You may have to wait for one week before receiving your EI benefits. This is called the “waiting period” and serves as the deductible paid for other types of insurance.
Once you're deemed eligible, you will receive your first benefit payment within 28 days of the date Services Canada received your application and the required documents.
Remember, after your first round of payments, you will have to complete and submit biweekly reports to show that you're still eligible for the benefits. If you do not, you will lose your benefits.
If Service Canada determines that you're ineligible for the EI benefits, you will receive a letter or a phone call explaining the decision. However, this decision is not final, and you can request reconsideration if you disagree.
To contact the EI on any inquiries concerning the benefits, you can call 1-800-206-7218 (toll-free) or 1-800-529-3742 (TTY).
Employment Insurance (EI) Eligibility Requirements FAQs
Can non-citizens get EI in Canada?
Yes, non-citizens can receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in Canada if they are permanent residents. Employment Insurance benefits are offered to those willing and available to work but cannot for one reason or another. However, it is required that they have a valid SIN.
Can I get EI if I quit my job to move?
Yes, you can get regular Employment Insurance benefits if you quit your job to move your family, including your spouse or common-law partner and your child, to a new residence or province.
Can I apply for EI while waiting for my work permit?
Yes, you can apply for EI while waiting for your work permit. You're allowed to claim Employment Insurance benefits if you have a pending work permit application or a closed work permit because these circumstances are beyond your control.
Can I leave Canada while on EI?
Yes, you can leave Canada while on Employment Insurance. However, you will have to inform Service Canada of your travel via your My Service Canada Account or in your biweekly reports. You also have to show that you are still available and willing to work in Canada while abroad.
You can be out of Canada for 14 consecutive days if you are looking for a job or 7 consecutive days if you are:
- Attending the funeral of a family member
- Accompanying a family member to a medical facility for treatments not readily available in their Canadian province
- Visiting a critically ill or injured family member
- Attending a job interview
Can I work while on EI?
Yes, you can work while on Employment Insurance benefits. When you work and receive the benefits simultaneously, you will have to report your earnings and the hours you work each week in your biweekly reports for the week you worked.
You will also be allowed to keep 50 cents of your EI benefit amount for every dollar you earn up to a maximum of 90% of the number of your insurable earnings. Any amounts earned above this threshold will be deducted dollar-for-dollar from the amount you earn.
The Employment Insurance (EI) income replacement program is offered to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs due to situations beyond their control. It's also intended to aid those who are out of employment due to taking time off work to care for their newborn baby, newly adopted child, critically ill or injured family members or persons in need of end-of-life care.
The EI program offers different benefits to different categories of persons depending on their situation. Individuals must meet the eligibility requirements of these constituent benefit programs to be eligible for the benefits. In addition, they must report biweekly to demonstrate that they're still eligible for each benefit or risk losing it altogether.