Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

Kevin Marshall and Ahmed Tariq

July 20, 2021

Employment Insurance (EI) benefits provide temporary income support to unemployed workers while they look for a new job.

To access EI benefits, apply online to Service Canada as soon as you stop working. You don't need to wait for your Record of Employment.

To be eligible for regular EI benefits, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own.  You need to have worked between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period.

The qualifying period is the shorter of:

  • The 52-week period immediately before the start date of your claim; or
  • The period from the start of a previous benefit period to the start of your new benefit period.

The number of hours of insurable employment required is based on the following:

  • your place of residence; and
  • the unemployment rate for your region.

When you apply for regular EI benefits, you must submit:

  • Your Record of Employment (ROE) from each job in the past year: If your employer submits your ROE electronically to Service Canada, you do not need to provide a paper copy. (You can download your ROEs from your My Service Canada Account.)
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN): If your SIN starts with “9”, you also need to show your work permit and proof of your immigration status.
  • Personal identification:  Your driver's licence, birth certificate or passport.
  • Your complete bank account information for direct deposit of your benefits: You can find this on your bank statement. Enter the information on-line or provide a blank personal cheque and mark it “VOID”.
  • A detailed version of the facts, including if you have been dismissed from any other job in the last year.
  • Information about your most recent job:  Details about wages paid or to be paid.

Please note: If you were dismissed for misconduct, you will not be entitled to receive EI benefits.

If you resign voluntarily, you will usually not be entitled to receive EI benefits. The exception is if you have just cause to quit.

The reasons listed below may be deemed just cause for leaving your employment voluntarily:

  • you are a victim of sexual or other harassment;
  • you are a victim of discrimination;
  • your working conditions are dangerous to your health and safety;
  • you need to care for a child or a member of your immediate family;
  • you have reasonable assurance of other employment in the immediate future;
  • your pay has been significantly reduced, or your employment conditions (such as hours worked) have been changed to your detriment;
  • you are asked to work an unreasonable amount of overtime or your employer refuses to pay you for the overtime work;
  • your duties have changed significantly;
  • you experience unwarranted antagonism from a supervisor;
  • your employer has certain practices that are contrary to law;
  • you need to accompany your spouse or dependent child to another residence;
  • you belong to an association, organization, or union of workers; and/or
  • you are unduly pressured by your employer or your co-workers to leave your employment.

To continue receiving EI benefits, you need to show that you are ready, willing, and capable of working each day, but you have been unable to find a job, even though you have been actively applying. Every two weeks, you will be required to file your report by telephone or on-line.

If your EI application is rejected or if you otherwise disagree with the decision of Service Canada, you can request a reconsideration of that decision to Service Canada within 30 days[1]. Make sure to add extra information (which you had not previously submitted).

Once submitted, a new agent will:

  • read the original decision and all related material on file
  • complete additional fact-finding and clarify any differences with relevant parties, which may include your previous employer
  • obtain relevant documents
  • review any new information received
  • assess all evidence related to the issue
  • make a decision that is consistent with legislation and jurisprudence
  • document the reasoning to support the reconsideration decision

If you disagree with the decision made on your request for reconsideration, you can file an appeal with the Social Security Tribunal (SST) General Division within 30 days.

Employers terminating an employee for cause (or without cause) typically prefer that their former employees do receive EI benefits, since they will be under less financial stress and thus have one less reason to be angry with the employer. That said, some supervisors, who have taken a personal dislike for the employee, may attempt to thwart the employee from receiving EI benefits. However, employers will often communicate the same information to Service Canada from their investigation. This could include a finding that the employee truly deserved to be terminated.

Other E.I. benefits are available. These include taking time off work to recover from illness or injury (sickness benefits), having a baby (maternity and parental benefits), or caring for someone who is ill or injured (caregiver benefits).

[1] If you apply late, then provide legitimate reasons for the delay.