Employment Insurance (EI) and courses or training programs
Did you know that the Employment Insurance (EI) program may allow you to take training while receiving benefits? If you have lost your job and want to return to school or upgrade your skills to help you find a new job, there are options available:
- taking training on your own while on EI
- taking training while on EI with permission from your province/territory or an Indigenous organization
- taking training while on EI with permission from Service Canada (new option for EI claimants who have lost their job after several years in the workforce)
You may also be eligible for financial assistance through Canada Student Loans and Grants. Visit the Skills Boost page to find out more about supports for adult learners.
Taking training on your own while on EI
As a general rule, to be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits or fishing benefits, you must show that you are unemployed, able and willing to work and actively looking for suitable employment.
If you decide on your own to take training, you must declare your training and prove that you are still able and willing to work and are continuing to look for a job to continue receiving EI benefits.
You must be ready to make arrangements to work if you receive a job offer, and to adjust or cancel your training plans if necessary.
Taking training while on EI with permission from your province/territory or an Indigenous organization
Do you want to take full-time training? You may be able to do this and continue receiving EI benefits. You will need to get permission from your provincial or territorial government. If you are Indigenous, you also have the option of getting permission from an Indigenous organization that provides employment programs in your province or territory.
Note: Provinces, territories and Indigenous organizations have the discretion to offer additional support and employment counselling to claimants as well.
To find information about other employment programs in your province or territory:
Taking training while on EI with permission from Service Canada
Have you lost your job after several years in the workforce? If so, starting on August 5, 2018, Service Canada may permit you to continue receiving EI benefits while attending a full-time program of your choice provided by an approved educational institution. You must pay for the training yourself.
As of August 5, if Service Canada approves your request, you will not have to be available for work or look for work while at school. You may also be eligible for student financial assistance.
To be eligible, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- you must be receiving or be eligible to receive EI regular benefits or fishing benefits
- you must be a long-tenured worker. A long-tenured worker is someone who has:
- received fewer than 36 weeks of EI regular and/or fishing benefits in the last 5 years, and
- paid at least 30% of the maximum EI annual premium in 7 of the last 10 years
To find out if you are considered a long-tenured worker, first apply for Employment Insurance benefits. Then call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.
- you must choose a program offered by an approved educational institution located in Canada. The institution must be on one of these lists: Designated Educational Institutions or Certified Educational Institutions
- you must be considered a full-time student. Each educational institution decides what is considered a full-time program at their institution
Requesting permission to take full-time training
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can request permission from Service Canada to take full-time training when you apply for benefits.
- call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218, or
- visit a Service Canada Centre
If you are already receiving benefits:
You should request permission before the course or training program start date so you can continue to receive EI benefits.
Service Canada will contact you by phone and by mail to let you know that your request for training has been approved.
As of August 5, 2018, if you are notified that your request has been approved, you will no longer have to be available for or looking for work during training.
Before August 5, 2018
If you are a long-tenured worker who has been disentitled from EI benefits because you are already taking full-time training and are not available for work, you can make a request to Service Canada for permission to attend the training so your benefits can resume (if you have weeks of benefits left) on August 5, 2018.
Starting a course before making a request
If you start attending training before asking for permission, you must still be available and actively looking for work to be entitled to EI benefits. If you weren't available and looking for work in the weeks before you requested permission, you won't receive benefits for those weeks.
Duration of benefits
You may continue to receive benefits after the training is completed if you have not used all the weeks of benefits that you are entitled to. You will need to be available and actively looking for work to remain eligible once the training is completed.
If the training is longer than the number of weeks of EI benefits that you are entitled to receive, you will not receive additional weeks of benefits to cover the entire length of the training.
If you withdraw or are expelled from training
If you received permission to take training and then with good cause you quit or stop attending, you will continue to receive EI benefits. However, you will need to be available and actively looking for work to remain eligible.
If you received permission to take training but quit or stop attending without good cause, or you are expelled from the training, you may no longer be eligible to receive EI benefits.
Declaring your participation in a course or a training program
You must declare that you are taking training when you apply for EI benefits, via your profile on your My Service Canada Account (MSCA), directly with an agent on the phone or in person, or when you complete your EI reports online or by phone. It's a good idea to create a MSCA as soon as you receive your EI access code by mail.
If you are taking training on your own or getting permission from Service Canada to take full-time training, you must complete the Training Course Information questionnaire and submit it using MSCA. If you are unable to use MSCA you can also complete the Training Course Information questionnaire and mail or deliver it to your local Service Canada Centre.
An agent will review your training information to ensure that you do not receive benefits to which you are not entitled. If you are requesting permission to take full-time training, Service Canada will contact you by phone and by mail to let you know whether your request to take training has been approved.
The Government of Canada provides a wide variety of training supports to individuals who need help to overcome obstacles in the job market.
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