Introduction to the Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles

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The Digest of Entitlement Principles, commonly called the Digest, contains the principles applied by Human Resources and Social Development Canada when making decisions on claims for benefit under the Employment Insurance legislation. It is intended as a reference tool for all users, including those without a legal background or knowledge of employment insurance.

If you are just looking for general information on Employment Insurance, you may wish to consult our website for claimants or employers.

The Digest of entitlement principles and the index of jurisprudence


You may enter through topical chapter names found in the Table of contents. Additionally, links are provided to each chapter in the issue summary below.

How to qualify for benefits

Basic concepts provides information on how to qualify for benefits, how long benefits can be paid and how the benefit rate is calculated.

Applying for benefits and starting a claim

In order to establish a claim for benefits, an individual must apply (Claim procedure) and have an Interruption of earnings. For those who do not apply promptly after their interruption of earnings, the department may grant an Antedate and consider the claim to be made at an earlier date, if good cause is shown for the delay in applying.

Reasons for unemployment and impact on eligibility

If the reason(s) for separation from employment are other than layoff, an officer must review the claim to determine entitlement, as the EI program is designed to pay benefits to those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. The major categories of reasons for consideration are quitting (Voluntarily leaving employment with just cause), fired (Misconduct) or unemployment resulting from a Labour dispute.

Issues while on claim

Apart from a few exceptions, such as participation in Employment benefits and support measures, every person who is claiming regular benefits must show Availability for work and a willingness to accept suitable employment that is offered (Refusal of employment). As well, the chapters on Week of unemployment and Earnings discuss situations where claimants work or have income while claiming benefits.

Special provisions and claim types

Because of their unique employment arrangements and regulations, additional information is provided regarding Teachers and Fisherpersons (Fishing benefits). Also, the Employment Insurance program provides Parental, Maternity and Sickness benefits for qualified claimants.

How decisions are made

Additional chapters in the Digest discuss the Evidence or proof required when an officer makes a decision on a claim for benefits and the circumstances in which a decision may be reconsidered (Reconsideration, amendment and return of benefit).

Sanctions for misrepresentation

Another section provides information on when the Commission can impose a penalty or other sanction for False or misleading statements.


Finally, the Digest discusses the Commission's authority to Write-off an overpayment of benefits in certain circumstances.


For clarity and readability, technical and legal terms have been avoided as much as possible. Also, references to the legislation and to judgements are found in the footnotes, rather than in the body of the text. The footnotes refer the reader to a specific provision of the Employment Insurance Act or Regulations , to relevant jurisprudence, or to another section of the Digest.

The Employment Insurance Act is abbreviated as EIA along with the relevant section or subsection number. The Regulations made under that Act are indicated as EIR. The Employment Insurance Fishing Regulations are set out as EIR (fishing).

"CUB" refers to judgements given by Umpires and stands for "Canadian Umpire-Benefit". The first Umpire decision was CUB 1 issued in 1943 and this numerical coding of CUBs has been in use since. Federal Court of Appeal decisions are designated by the claimant's name, the decision number, as well as the applicable CUB number.

The Index of Jurisprudence contains summaries of about 9,000 significant decisions from Umpires, the Federal Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Significant judgements are those that hold some jurisprudential value or provide insight into the present legislation and policies dealing with entitlement to employment insurance.

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