Government of Canada temporarily sets a minimum unemployment rate for the Employment Insurance program

News release

August 10, 2020              Gatineau, Quebec              Employment and Social Development Canada

Since the beginning of the pandemic the Government of Canada has taken action to provide Canadians with the health and financial support needed to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Since it was launched, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been an important income support for over 8.5 million Canadians and their families, who have had to stop working due to the pandemic. As the country continues to gradually and safely restart the economy, over 1.6 million Canadians have been able to return to work. However, we know that not all sectors are re-opening at the same pace. That’s why the Government is preparing to transition as many Canadians as possible back to the Employment Insurance (EI) system at the end of month.

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced that effective August 9, 2020 a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% will be applied temporarily for all EI economic regions across Canada.

In taking this action, the Government is recognizing that the pandemic continues to make labour market conditions uncertain and unpredictable across the country. When individuals begin transitioning off of the CERB back to EI regular benefits at the end of this month, those living in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while individuals living in regions with a higher unemployment rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual rate for that region.

This temporary measure will establish minimum entry requirements for EI eligibility across the country for Canadians to access the income support they need now or might need later as we continue to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

This is the first in a series of steps, to be announced in the coming weeks, that will help eligible Canadians transition from emergency income measures back into the EI system and into the labour force as we work together to best position our country for a strong economic recovery.


“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has taken action to support Canadians and businesses facing financial hardship. As we carefully and gradually restart parts of our economy, we recognize that many Canadian workers continue to face challenges. The temporary use of a national minimum unemployment rate for the EI program will help more people access EI regular benefits and provide eligible Canadians with access to a minimum 26 weeks of benefits.”

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Quick facts

  • Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits provide income support to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and are available for and able to work, but can't find a job.

  • This temporary measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits, provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of benefits, and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14.

  • Normally, a claimant can qualify to receive EI regular benefits from 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in the region where they reside at the time of filing their claim and the amount of insurable hours accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since their last claim, whichever is shorter.

Associated links


For media enquiries, please contact:

Marielle Hossack
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter

Page details

Date modified: