Service Canada offers employment insurance benefits to Canadians who lose their working income. This financial relief is available for those Canadians who meet the list of requirements. The following article is up-to-date and goes over the recent Employment Insurance (EI) program reform and what that means for applicants.
What Do These Benefits Offer?
The Government of Canada classifies EI as “temporary income support to unemployed workers.” These programs fill the gap for Canadians who stop earning money for a reason that is not in their control. In most cases, it is because the employer lets them go “without fault.”
The Special Benefits category offers coverage for self-employed individuals. Expecting mothers and new parents can receive support before and after the birth of their child. Benefits are also available for certain illnesses, injuries, and caregiving situations.
What Kind of Benefits Does the EI Program Include?
A handful of EI programs are available to Canadians. Check the list below to better understand the requirements by benefit type.
EI Regular Benefits are for Canadians who “lose their jobs through no fault of their own.” For example, an employee will qualify after a temporary or seasonal lay-off. The employer must not list the employee at fault for the termination.
Hazardous weather such as flooding can qualify you for EI. You can also apply for EI benefits if your employer does not provide work or pay for 7 consecutive days.
Special Benefits are available under the self-employed program. You can apply if you run a small business, although exceptions exist for corporation owners. You must wait 12 months after registering for the program before you can file an EI claim.
Some self-employed workers (e.g., drivers and hairstylists) do not qualify as they are eligible for regular EI. This program is also not for anyone who qualifies for fishing benefits.
Maternity & Parental Benefits
Maternity and Parental Benefits provide support through the end of pregnancy and up to 18 months in your child’s life. Maternity benefits are available to the mother for up to 15 weeks and start before childbirth. Parental benefits are available to both parents after the child is born.
Canadian parents now have the option to share benefit periods.
Sickness Benefits work like regular EI. Qualifying for this program is easy, but you will need a medical certificate stating you cannot work. Injury, illness, and quarantine are all acceptable reasons for taking time off. Your doctor must believe that you are unfit to work during this time.
Caregiving Benefits provide income support when you miss work for compassionate care. This program offers up to 52 weeks of benefits after medical certification. You have the choice to take the claim all at once or spread it throughout the year. The doctor must sign off that the person needs end-of-life care or is critically ill or injured.
The individual seeking help must be “like a family member.”
Caring for a minor: up to 35 weeks
Caring for an adult: up to 15 weeks
End-of-life care: up to 26 weeks
What Are Some New Rules for Employment Insurance?
New rules apply for EI claims starting September 26, 2021. These rules are “set in stone” for all application periods up to September 24, 2022.
- Insurable Hours for New Applicants
Service Canada now requires at least 420 insurable hours for new applicants.
- Medical Certificate for Sickness Benefits
A medical certificate is necessary to prove eligibility for EI sickness benefits.
- Payment Floor for EI Benefits
The EI benefit floor is now $300/week ($180 for extended parental) and ends November 20, 2021.
- Recalculation of Claim Values
All applications after November 20 will undergo standard EI premium calculations. As a result, the uniform rate of 13.1% will no longer be relevant.
- Payment Start Date Changes
EI applicants who receive severance or vacation pay will no longer see a delay in their claim start date. But, the one-week wait period is back in place for new applicants.
How Much Is Employment Insurance?
Most EI programs pay a benefit rate of 55% of insurable earnings up to $595 per week. The major exception is with extended parental benefits, which pay 33% up to $357 per week.
Tip: Check the Government of Canada’s ‘EI Regular Benefits – How Much You Could Receive.’ You can use this information to calculate your premium rate.
Who Is Eligible?
Employment insurance eligibility requirements vary by program. Read up on the benefit that fits your situation. Undoubtedly, filing an unemployment claim can be a tedious process, but you will avoid payment delays if you prepare yourself.
Service Canada offers employment insurance benefits to Canadians who are “out of work.” These programs are available to both employed and self-employed individuals. For self-employed, you must register for the program through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA).
Many Canadians apply for EI after dismissal or termination because of failing to vaccinate against COVID. This practice is legal in Canada. Limited situations apply where the worker will be eligible for EI benefits, so you need to prove the employer did not communicate the requirement and consequence.
Note: You must try to find a job while on EI unless medical reasons prevent you.
How to Apply for Employment Insurance
Go to the ‘Employment Insurance Benefits and Leave’ page on the Government of Canada website. Please select all that apply to find the category of benefits program that fits you. The information page will open for that benefit.
Next, you will see an option to apply. This section will provide more insight into the requirements and any documentation you may need. Save your login credentials to avoid a login error, and then follow the requirements and double-check all details to prevent social insurance number (SIN) validation problems. Be sure to note any employment insurance contact information.
What Do I Do If I Have Exhausted My EI Benefits?
Are you finished with all your weeks of EI?
Pandemic support may help fill the void if you run out of EI.
- The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is now over.
- The Government is transitioning to the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB), which will run until May 7, 2022.
- CWLB replaces the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).
- Both programs run out on November 20, 2021.
Applicants can receive up to four one-week CRCB payments and 42 weeks of CRSB. The benefit rate is $500 per week minus a 10% tax at source. Thus, you will receive $450 for each eligible payment period. COVID support programs can affect your taxes and impact your credit score.
The Employment Insurance Act explains the programs and details their requirements. Every decision made by Service Canada will occur because of the Directives found in this Act. Read through it if you need further clarification.
To receive EI benefits means to cut your income in half. Meanwhile, your outgoing expenses are roughly the same. It might be a good time to consider your debt management options.