The Employment Insurance program has undergone many changes since its inception in the 1940s. Its primary objective continues to be the same: to provide temporary relief – in the form of regular income – to workers who lost their employment through no fault of their own and those who are actively looking for employment or are undergoing training.
It takes 28 days before you receive your first payment, so it’s important to be prepared. To learn more about all the steps involved, including your eligibility for this program, the application process, and the submission of reports, read on below.
What Is Employment Insurance?
The Employment Insurance program—often known as the EI program—is a Canadian government-funded benefit that pays out money to those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
This includes economic downturns, restructuring, shortages of work, layoffs, and natural disasters. EI also assists if you cannot work due to sickness or injury.
EI also offers support for individuals who need time off from work to care for a child or a sick family member.
Am I Eligible For Employment Insurance In Canada?
To Qualify For The Program
- You must have at least 420 hours of work – in the last year – covered by the EI program.
- If you have not worked or received payment from any particular employer for seven straight days.
- If you lost your job through no fault of your own.
- You must be actively looking for work.
You May Not Be Eligible
- If you were dismissed or fired for misconduct.
- You chose to quit when you had other choices, and your employer can show that they offered additional chances.
- If you're out of work due to direct involvement in a labour dispute – like strikes, lockouts, and boycotts.
- Under an agreement with your employer, you worked overtime to compensate for a leave period and are currently in that period.
How To Apply For EI
It's very important that you apply for EI as soon as you stop working. If you don't apply within four weeks of your last workday, you may be disqualified for this benefit.
You don't have to wait for your employer's Report of Employment (ROE) to apply; they can submit it directly to Service Canada on their own. Just make sure your employer actually files it, as you will need it to complete the process.
There are two ways to apply for EI in Canada:
- Apply at any Service Canada near you. Just request an EI form, fill it out, and submit true copies of all supporting documents – these include social insurance number, government-issued ID, and details about your most recent job. Once you have the completed form, you can drop it off at any Service Canada office. We've included a full checklist of the necessary documents at the end.
- Apply online. To apply, you must fill out the online application form. You can submit your application at a public internet access location – such as a library – if you don't have access to the internet at home.
After You Apply
If your application is accepted, you may be required to wait one week while they verify all your information. You'll also receive a Benefit Statement and a four-digit access code.
This code and your SIN are required to track the progress of your application. You'll also have to provide Service Canada with updates in the form of biweekly reports.
If your application is rejected, Service Canada will send you a letter or call you to explain why. If you think your application was denied unjustly, you can ask for a reconsideration.
There is no cost associated with this procedure.
What Is An EI Report?
After applying and being accepted into the program, you are required to submit a report to Service Canada every two weeks.
This is how they make sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to and how they confirm your continued eligibility.
What To Include In Your Report
- Dates and hours worked
- Contact information of any employers
- Time spent at school or training courses
- Whether you were available to work, not looking for work, or incapable of working due to illness or injury
Important: If you work or earn money, you must include it in your report. If you don't disclose the money you earn to Service Canada, you risk receiving more money than you are entitled to and having to repay it at a later date.
How To Submit Your EI Report
There are three main ways you can submit the biweekly reports: you can fill out the online report application, you can call Canada Services directly, or you can send paper reports. Let's go over them briefly.
- Internet Reporting Service. The online application takes around 1 hour to complete, but you can come back to it later if you don't finish it all at once. Your information is saved in the system for 72 hours from the moment you start.
- Telephone Reporting Service. If you don't have access to the internet, you can send the reports by calling 1-800-531-7555. Available during business hours.
- Paper Report. You can also request a paper report. This form will arrive at your mailing address; you have to fill it and send it to your closest Service Canada office. You can refer to the previous section when filling out the report. For a more detailed step-by-step guide, you can check the official page on How to complete your EI Paper Report.
Keep your social insurance number (SIN) and the four-digit access code that you received (along with your Benefit Statement) handy, as you will need them to submit the reports.
After you've submitted the report, Service Canada will notify you when you have to submit the next one.
You can track the status of your EI claims and reports at any time through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA), or you can call Service Canada, and an agent will assist you.
EI Amounts 2023: How Is EI Calculated?
The amount of EI you receive is determined on a sliding scale based on the type of EI benefit, how much you've been earning, and where you reside – based on the unemployment rate in your area, you may receive more or less.
The government takes your gross earnings – before deductions – into account when determining EI benefits.
For regular benefits, the basic rate for calculating EI is 55% of your pay, up to a maximum amount of $650 every week. The maximum amount varies over time, and you can check the official figures on the official website.
Another consideration is the type of income your earn during your EI benefit period. If you earn a certain type of income – like self-employment earnings – your advantages may be reduced, or you may not benefit as much.
Other forms of income won't reduce EI benefits, including pension payments from RRSP and RRIFs. The federal government has a comprehensive list of income types here.
You may still get EI even if you work part-time. Under the working-while-on-claim rules, you retain 50 cents of EI benefits for each dollar you earn in wages, up to a maximum limit.
In the case your 2021 net income (from all sources) is greater than $70,375 (indexed annually), then you must repay 30% of the lesser of:
- Total net income over $70,375.
- Regular EI payments.
Some exceptions include:
- If you did not earn more than one week of regular EI in the last ten years, no repayment is required, even if your 2021 net income exceeds $70,375.
- No repayments are required if you are receiving special EI benefits, no matter your net income.
- Partial exemptions.
You can read more about EI clawbacks on the official government of Canada page.
EI Payment Dates FAQs
What documents do I need to apply for EI?
To apply for EI, you'll need the following documents
- Social insurance number (SIN)
- Proof of immigration status (if applicable)
- Mailing and residential address
- Financial institution name
- Bank branch number
- Account number
Previous jobs information
- Complete employment history (for the last 52 weeks)
- Basic information of ALL employers (Name, address, phone number)
- Dates of employment
- Reason for separation
- Your detailed version (if you quit or were dismissed, plus the reasons for your departure)
- Total earnings for each of your highest-paid weeks
- If reactivating an existing claim:
- The salary you received (before deductions) for the last week you worked.
- Additional payments you received or expect to receive (vacation pay, severance pay, pension payment).
You can submit these documents online or to your closest Service Canada office.
How long does EI take to deposit?
You'll receive your first EI payment about 28 days after applying if you're qualified and have provided all the necessary information listed above. If you aren't eligible for EI, Service Canada will notify you of its decision.
At what time is EI deposited?
The specific time that your EI payment will hit your bank account depends on a number of factors, including the bank you use and when in the queue your payment gets processed. Generally, though, the EI direct deposit will be processed around the same time of day each time you receive it, which means if you received your payment around 2:00 p.m. last period, you're likely to receive it around 2:00 p.m. this period, too.
When do I start receiving EI benefits?
There is a seven-day period before you begin receiving benefits. This period is known as the waiting period, and it's comparable to a deductible in other types of insurance.
My EI claim was denied. What can I Do?
You can appeal the decision. To do that, you have to print the Request for Reconsideration form, fill it out, and submit it to Service Canada – in person or by mail – within 30 days after being notified of the initial decision.
Note that this is a paper form, and there is no online application.
When can I apply for EI if I received a severance package from my company?
If you received a lump-sum payment, you can apply for your EI benefits right away; assuming this is a standard separation, your ROE should be issued shortly afterward.
Your ROE will show all additional payments, such as vacation pay, severance pay, or bonuses. The total amount of money received after separation is divided by your average weekly wage, and the resulting number of weeks is the pushback time before you start receiving EI payments.
If you received a salary continuance, you don't need to apply for your EI benefits right away. You are still considered employed, and you will not receive an ROE until the end of salary continuation.
After your salary continuation expires, you can submit your EI application online or at your closest Service Canada.
Did EI increase in January 2023?
Yes. Because of the increased maximum insurable earnings (MIE), beginning in January 2023, the maximum weekly EI benefit increased from $638 to $650 per week. Claims that were established before December 31, 2022, were not affected by the 2023 MIE increase.
Are EI payments delayed due to the holidays?
Some holidays—including Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and Victoria Day—can cause EI payments to be processed late. Generally, in these cases, they'll arrive 1-2 business days later than usual, though it's possible that they will arrive slightly later than that (especially around the Christmas holidays).
Why is my EI payment late?
The main reason an EI payment is made late is due to a holiday, so it's worth checking whether that's the case (and don't forget about lesser-known holidays like the Civic Holiday on the first Monday of August). Other possible reasons for late EI payments are that you received vacation or severance pay from your most recent employer for the period in question, or that you've just applied for EI and your claim hasn't been processed yet.
It generally takes 1 week from the time you apply for EI until you start receiving benefits.
Are EI payments taxable?
Yes, EI payments count as taxable income for both federal and provincial taxes. Taxes are deducted when you receive your payments.
What happens if I stop submitting EI reports every two weeks?
If you stop submitting employment insurance reports every two weeks, you will stop receiving EI benefits. The EI program relies on the information you give it in your bi-weekly reports, so don't stop submitting the reports if you want to continue receiving the benefits.
Can I ask dor an exemption from submitting EI reports?
Under certain circumstances, you may be exempt from submitting bi-weekly EI reports. Grounds for receiving an exemption include:
- You're on paternal or caregiving leave
- You're actively participating in training courses or apprenticeship programs
- You're a member of the Work-Sharing program
If you meet any of these requirements, you can request a reporting exemption while your EI claim is open.
When do I stop receiving EI benefits?
You'll stop receiving EI benefits when one of three things happen:
- You receive all the weeks of benefits that were available to you
- The payment period during which you could collect benefits ends
- You request an end to the benefit.