Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 1 - Section 4

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1.4.0 Benefit period structure

Generally, a benefit period will have a duration of 52 weeks Footnote 1 . However, as explained in the following headings, this duration could vary Footnote 2 .

It is also to be noted that two benefit periods may not exist at the same time for the same person. A benefit period will be established only if the previous benefit period, if there is one, has terminated Footnote 3 . Sometimes it is possible to terminate an established benefit period upon request Footnote 4 or cancel it Footnote 5 .

1.4.1 Commencement

The benefit period begins on the Sunday of the week in which the interruption of earnings occurs, or on the Sunday of the week in which the initial claim for benefit is made, whichever is the later Footnote 6 .

However, in practice, if a claimant has had insurable employment during that week and those hours are necessary for establishing the benefit period, commencement is deferred to the following Sunday Footnote 7 . This also applies for a claimant, who does not qualify for benefits only by reason of being a minor attachment claimant, provided that the additional hours suffice to bring the claimant into the major attachment category Footnote 8 . This eliminates unnecessary steps by both the Commission and the claimant who would otherwise have had to file a new claim in the following week.

Once established, the benefit period commencement date may not be readjusted at will afterward Footnote 9 . Readjustment was not allowed even where the claimant alleged that the initial claim would have been filed later had the correct information been provided by Commission staff Footnote 10 . Of course, a request to antedate the initial claim to an earlier date could result in a change of this commencement date Footnote 11 .

1.4.2 Number of weeks of benefit

It must be remembered throughout this section that the issue is regular benefits. Benefits other than regular, such as sickness, maternity, parental compassionate care or family caregiver benefits are subject to their own specific legislative provisions. It is the same for fishing benefits and those related to developmental programs. These types of benefits Footnote 12 will be covered in their own specific chapters.

In a benefit period, benefits may be payable Footnote 13 for every week of unemployment Footnote 14 that follows the waiting period Footnote 15 . The maximum number of weeks for which benefits may be paid in a benefit period is determined at the beginning of this period and is dependent on two factors. They are: the number of hours of insurable employment held by the claimant in his or her qualifying period and, the regional rate of unemployment that is applicable to the claimant Footnote 16 in the week when the benefit period commences. This maximum number varies from 14 to 45. For example, when the applicable regional rate of unemployment is 6%, and a claimant has accumulated 700 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period, then a maximum of 14 weeks of benefits may be payable. Whereas another, who had 1330 hours of insurable employment and the applicable rate of unemployment is greater than 16%, could receive up to 45 weeks of benefits. The Table of Weeks of Benefit in the Act Footnote 17 clearly shows these two factors and the various maximum of weeks of benefit which could be paid.

It is not necessary that the weeks of benefit are consecutive; as long as benefits have not been exhausted, they may be paid at any time during the benefit period. The amount of benefits paid in a given week is irrelevant. Any week for which $1 or more has been paid or is deemed to have been paid counts as a week of benefit paid Footnote 18 .

The Regulations provide that under certain circumstances a claimant who resides out of Canada is not disentitled from benefits for the sole reason of that residence. However, the number of weeks of benefit which may be paid in these circumstances are subject to different rules, which are described below.

A claimant, permanently or temporarily residing in a state of the United States that is contiguous to Canada, who is available for work in Canada and is able to report in person at a Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office in Canada when directed, is not disentitled from benefit for the sole reason of residing outside of Canada Footnote 19 . It is the same for the person who resides temporarily or permanently in the District of Columbia, in any of the United States, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, on the condition that ESDC has not suspended, for the place involved, the Agreement between Canada and the United States respecting Unemployment Insurance, as modified June 21, 1985 and, that this person proves his or her entitlement to benefit under this agreement Footnote 20 . In such a case, the maximum number of weeks of benefit that may be paid in a benefit period is dependent on the number of hours of insurable employment accumulated in the qualifying period. For example, a claimant who has 420 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period could receive a maximum of 10 weeks of benefits, while a maximum of 36 weeks of benefits could be paid to another who had accumulated 1820 hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period. The Table incorporated in the Regulations shows the various maximum weeks of benefit which could be paid, depending on the number of hours of insurable employment that were accumulated in a qualifying period Footnote 21 .

A claimant residing outside of Canada under one of the situations described above, and for whom a benefit period was established, could subsequently reside in Canada. That claimant could continue to receive benefits for, at most, the maximum number of weeks as provided in the Table that is discussed above Footnote 22 . The opposite may also occur a claimant who had established a benefit period in Canada could subsequently reside outside of Canada, under those circumstances described earlier. The maximum number of weeks for which benefits may be paid to that claimant during the benefit period is the higher number of the following: the number of weeks for which benefits have already been received in Canada, or, the number he or she otherwise would have been entitled under the previously discussed Table Footnote 23 if, he or she had permanently or temporarily resided outside of Canada in one of those locations described in the precedent paragraph, when the benefit period was established Footnote 24 .

[ September 2006 ]

1.4.3 Termination

As discussed earlier, the maximum number of weeks of regular benefit that may be paid in a benefit period will vary from 14 to 45 Footnote 25 . The length of the benefit period itself is 52 weeks Footnote 26 , which includes the waiting period Footnote 27 for which no benefits are payable.

Unless the benefit period could be extended, which is discussed later Footnote 28 ; it is during this 52 weeks period that a claimant could receive the maximum number of weeks of benefit to which he or she is entitled. No entitlement exists once these 52 weeks have elapsed Footnote 29 , even if the claimant has not received the maximum number of weeks payable.

A benefit period would normally terminate immediately after the claimant has received the number of weeks of regular benefits to which he or she is entitled. However, where the claimant has received all the regular benefits to which he or she is entitled before the 52 weeks have elapsed, for example after 19 weeks, the benefit period will not be terminated immediately, as special benefits may become payable to the claimant Footnote 30 . In such a case where special benefits are claimed after payment of all regular benefits, the benefit period will terminate at the earlier of the following eventualities: when both regular and special benefits have been paid to a maximum of 50 weeks or, when the 52 weeks of the benefit period have elapsed Footnote 31 .

Once the benefit period has terminated, it is up to the claimant to demonstrate that he or she meets the conditions required to establish a new benefit period.

[ September 2006 ]

1.4.4 Early termination

A claimant may request early termination of the benefit period for the purpose of establishing a new one immediately. This course of action may be advantageous when, for example the benefit rate could become higher or the claimant could become a major attachment Footnote 32 . ESDC must inform the claimant of the advantages and disadvantages related to such a termination, and also of the consequences of this decision, so that an informed decision can be made. ESDC must not decide for the claimant nor influence his or her decision. This decision must be taken by the claimant and is final even though it may later prove to be a disadvantage Footnote 33 . What may be advantageous at one point in time could very well be different in the future Footnote 34 .

Where the claimant requests an early termination of the benefit period, the request will be granted provided that the claimant makes a new initial claim and fulfills the conditions to establish a new benefit period Footnote 35 . In such case, the benefit period is terminated on the Saturday preceding the commencement of the new benefit period Footnote 36 . If no benefits were paid or payable during that period which was terminated, then the benefit period may be cancelled Footnote 37 .

The claimant's request to terminate an established benefit period is to be considered as having been made at an earlier date if the claimant shows that good cause existed for his or her delay in making that request. Good cause must exist throughout the elapsed period between that earlier date and the date the request was made. It is irrelevant whether the said benefit period has terminated or not Footnote 38 . Furthermore, it is irrelevant whether benefits have been paid after the effective date of the early termination. In such a case, there will be an adjustment in the payment of benefits. As well, because that portion of the benefit period which precedes the effective date of the early termination will become a terminated benefit period, it may be cancelled if no benefits were paid or payable during that period Footnote 39 . It is possible to retroactively terminate an established benefit period.

In order to determine whether the claimant's reasons for the delay constitute good cause, the principles concerning antedating, as found in chapter 3, are to be followed. Jurisprudence has held that good cause is simply doing what a reasonable person would do to satisfy themselves as to their rights and obligations under the Act Footnote 40 .

Any week of disqualification, in the case of a definite disqualification, which had not been served when the benefit period terminated will be carried forward to the new benefit period if it is established within the two years following the date on which the original disqualifying event occurred Footnote 41 . No week of disqualification will be carried forward to a subsequent benefit period if the claimant, since the date of this event, held 700 hours of insurable employment Footnote 42 . Furthermore, for weeks which special benefits Footnote 43 are payable, the disqualification will be deferred Footnote 44 . Further details on the effects of a disqualification are found at 1.6.2.

[ April 2006 ]

1.4.5 Cancellation

When a benefit period or a portion of a benefit period is cancelled, it is as if it had not existed Footnote 45 . Often, this is to the claimant's advantage, for example in providing a longer qualifying period Footnote 46 or in selecting a more advantageous commencement date for a new benefit period.

The Commission may cancel a benefit period that has terminated provided that no benefit was paid or was payable Footnote 47 .

At the request of the claimant, the Commission may also cancel a portion of a benefit period which precedes the first week for which benefits had been paid or payable provided the following two conditions are met, the claimant establishes a new benefit period commencing the first week for which benefits were paid or payable and, the claimant shows good cause for the delay in making the request throughout the period commencing on the day when benefit was first paid or payable and ending on the day when the request for cancellation was made. It is irrelevant whether the benefit period for which cancellation is requested has terminated or not Footnote 48 .

The Commission must inform the claimant of the advantages as well as disadvantages related to such a cancellation. Nevertheless, this must be treated in the same manner as requests for early termination Footnote 49 , that is, the claimant must not be influenced and it is the claimant who must decide what action to take.

It may happen that benefits were paid during a benefit period although they were not payable and now the overpayment must be reimbursed. In such a case where cancellation of that benefit period has been requested, it may be granted. In one case where the benefits were payable but had not been received, it had been decided that the cancellation could be granted Footnote 50 . In view of this judgment as well as the interpretation that may be given to the legislative text Footnote 51 , the Commission will acquiesce to a request for cancellation by a claimant who finds him or herself in such a situation.

The expression "benefits paid" also includes some situations where the claimant had in fact not received anything for example, when a disqualification was being served Footnote 52 . There are, however, exceptions when the serving of one or more weeks of disqualification will not prevent the cancellation of a claim; an example of this could occur where the cancellation would permit a minor attachment claimant to become a major attachment claimant who is entitled to sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care benefits, and/or family caregiver benefits Footnote 53 .

In the context of the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on January 1, 2006, a new principle of equivalence Footnote 54 has been established that extends to benefits paid under a provincial plan a recognition that is similar to maternity or parental benefits paid under the EI program, applies to any future claim for EI benefits.

However, the cancellation of a benefit period is not part of the nine situations retained for this principle of equivalence. Consequently, the benefits paid under such a provincial plan are not considered in the present context as equivalent to benefits paid under EI.

[ October 2013 ]

[ September 2006 ]

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