Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 1 - Section 9

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1.9.0 Payment of benefit

Once the benefit period has been established the waiting period served and the claimant fulfils the conditions of entitlement, a claimant generally receives a benefit payment every two weeks, i.e. after a claim is made for the two-week period in question.

1.9.1 Continuing claim required

Benefit will only be made to a claimant for any week in a benefit period when a request is made for their payment Footnote 1 , that is, by making a claim Footnote 2 . This must be done by a form that is approved for this purpose Footnote 3 , commonly called, "continuing claim" Footnote 4 .

The form in use, a report card or claimant's report covers a period of two weeks; occasionally, it may cover only one week. It must be returned to the pay centre at the end of the period covered. There are two ways of filing this report when it is due, either by returning it to the Service Canada Centre or in specific situation by using a touch tone phone and keying it in. A delay results in disentitlement Footnote 5 unless good cause is shown for the delay Footnote 6 and the claim can be antedated Footnote 7 .

In the cases of maternity, parental, compassionate care and family caregiver benefits, the claimant may opt out of completing claimant's report altogether. However, the claimant is still responsible for reporting any situations to the Service Canada Centre that may affect entitlement to these benefits; for instance, receipt of vacation pay.

On very particular occasions, a continuing claim may be filed before the end of the period it covers and an advance payment made. This may happen at Christmas time or where unemployment is the result of a disaster at the claimant's place of work Footnote 8 .

It is to be noted that a claim is said to be renewed when, during a benefit period, a claimant applies after not having made a claim for four or more consecutive weeks Footnote 9 . A renewal claim must be made no later than in the week that follows the week for which benefits are being claimed Footnote 10 . Just as for a continuing claim, a renewal claim may be antedated Footnote 11 .

[ October 2013 ]

[ September 2006 ]

1.9.2 Rate calculation period (RCP)

The EI Act has a provision to calculate the benefit rate by using all insurable earnings within a fixed period called the Rate Calculation Period (RCP) Footnote 12 .

The RCP is the period of not more than 26 consecutive weeks in the claimant's qualifying period ending with the later of:

  • the week before benefit period commencement (BPC), if the BPC is the Sunday of the week of the last interruption of earnings (IOE) or
  • the week of the last IOE if the BPC is the Sunday of a week this is after the week of the last IOE and
  • the week before the BPC if the claimant has an insurable employment at the beginning of that week.

Any Labour Force Attachment week defined by regulation Footnote 13 is skipped when establishing the RCP unless there are insurable earnings in that week. This has the effect of extending the RCP for every prescribed week without insurable earnings that falls within the RCP.

In the context of the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on January 1, 2006, a new principle has been established to guarantee equity in the processing of claims for Employment Insurance benefits that are filed throughout Canada. This principle of equivalence Footnote 14 extends to benefits paid under a provincial plan a recognition that is similar to maternity or parental benefits paid under the EI program.

According to a section added Footnote 15 to the regulation dealing with prescribed hours and weeks Footnote 16 , it follows that any week for which a claimant has no insurable earnings and has received provincial benefits – such as QPIP benefits – is considered a prescribed week relating to employment in the labour force.

Accordingly, such provincial benefit weeks will not be taken into account in the rate calculation period consisting of a maximum of twenty-six consecutive weeks during the qualifying period.

[September 2006 ]

1.9.3 Weekly rate of benefit

The weekly rate of benefit is the maximum amount a claimant may receive for each week in the benefit period. The basic benefit rate is 55% of the average insured earnings up to a maximum of $514.00 per week Footnote 17 . Depending on personal circumstances a benefit rate could be higher or lower than 55% Footnote 18 , however, the maximum payment of $514.00 will not change.

The claimant's average weekly insurable earnings amount will be determined by using all insurable earnings in his or her Rate Calculation Period (RCP) and dividing this amount by a divisor Footnote19 . This divisor is the larger of:

  1. the number of weeks during the RCP in which the claimant had insurable employment; or
  2. a number equivalent to the Variable Entrance Requirement (VER) plus 2 up to a maximum of 22.

That average weekly insurable earnings amount cannot exceed $934.00 Footnote20 . The benefit rate is 55% of that calculated average weekly insurable earnings amount.

The total amount of insurable earnings will be allocated in the RCP where the employment falls completely in the RCP. Where any period of employment falls partially outside the RCP, the total amount of insurable earnings, excluding those payable by reason of lay-off or separation from employment, will be allocated proportionately over the period of employment on the basis that the claimant earned the same amount of insurable earnings for each of the seven days of each week.

1.9.4 Decrease in the benefit rate-intensity rule

The decrease in the benefit rate applies to weeks of regular benefits paid or payable effective June 30, 1996.

Note: For benefit rate reduction prior to September 30, 2000, refer to the Legislation and Digest principles.

1.9.5 Increase in the benefit rate

The benefit rate is increased if the claimant or the claimant's spouse is:

  • in receipt of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) under the Income Tax Act on the Sunday of the week for which unemployment benefits are claimed; and
  • the family income is lower than $25,921.

This is called a Family Supplement Footnote 21 .

No family supplement is payable where the family income exceeds the Canada Child Benefit Working Income threshold of $25,921 or once the unemployment weekly benefit rate plus the family supplement reaches the maximum weekly benefit rate of $543 Footnote 22 .

If claiming employment benefits for the same period only one of the spouses will be entitled to the family supplement. The choice of who receives the family supplement is the claimant's to make and will have to be made prior to the week of employment insurance benefits claimed for Footnote 23 .

The maximum family supplement to the EI benefit rate will be increased on a graduated scale not to exceed the prescribed percentages of the claimant's weekly insurable earnings in the rate calculation period Footnote 24 .

1.9.6 Benefit paid defined

As previously discussed, there is a maximum number of weeks of benefit that can be paid in a benefit period Footnote 25 . Any week in respect of which benefit in the amount of one dollar or more has been paid is deducted from this maximum number Footnote 26 . Also to be deducted from this maximum are weeks for which no actual payment was made but for which benefits are deemed paid; the following is a list of such weeks:

  1. benefit for a week was applied against a week of disqualification (i.e. weeks of definite disqualification according to Section 27 Footnote 27 ;
  2. benefit for a week was used to repay an overpayment Footnote 28 ;
  3. benefit for a week was applied against a penalty Footnote 29 ;
  4. benefit for a week was transferred to a government or municipal authority as a refund of assistance already provided Footnote 30 .

However, a week for which benefit has been paid or has been deemed to be paid must not be deducted from the number of weeks payable in a benefit period if, following reconsideration, the claimant was not entitled to any benefit for that week and an overpayment is established.

In the context of the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on January 1, 2006, a new principle has been established to guarantee equity in the processing of claims for Employment Insurance benefits that are filed throughout Canada. This principle of equivalence Footnote 31 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.

According to a provision Footnote 32 made in this context, each week of provincial benefits such as QPIP benefits is considered as a week for which benefits are paid under the EI and is taken into consideration in calculating:

  • the overall maximum number of weeks of EI maternity or parental benefits to be paid per benefit period and the maximum number of weeks of EI benefits to be paid regarding a birth or an adoption Footnote 33 .

[ September 2006 ]

1.9.7 Repayment of benefits

The repayment clause is applied when a person's net income as defined in the Income Tax Act exceeds 1.25 times the maximum yearly insured earnings.

For taxation year 2000 and onward,

  • the net income threshold applies to regular and regular fishing benefits only;
  • the repayment level is set at 30% Footnote 34 ;
  • special benefits (sickness, maternity, parental and compassionate care) are exempt from the repayment provisions Footnote 35 ;
  • a first time claimant is exempt from this provision.

A first time claimant is defined for these purposes to be an individual who has received less than 1 week of regular benefits in the 10 taxation years prior to the current taxation year Footnote 36 .

  • regular benefits (including regular fishing) paid for weeks beginning prior to June 30, 1996 are not considered in applying this provision Footnote 37 .

When a claimant's net income exceeds the threshold, the claimant is required to repay the Receiver General the lesser of Footnote 38 :

  1. total regular benefits paid in taxation year; and
  2. the amount by which the claimant's net income for the taxation year exceeds the threshold.

When an overpayment amount that was a result of fraud is repaid, those weeks of overpayment are still considered to be weeks paid for benefit repayment Footnote 39 .

EI benefits for work-sharing and employment measures Footnote 40 are subject to repayment, however, no Part II financial assistance of any kind Footnote 41 is included in the repayment provisions.

[ July 2008 ]

1.9.8 Earnings while on claim

The Employment Insurance working while on claim provisions allow claimants to stay connected to the labour market and earn additional income while on claim. The provisions allow claimants to keep receiving a portion of their EI benefits, along with all earnings from employment or other sources. These provisions take effect on August 12, 2018, and apply to any eligible EI claimant who earns money while collecting any type of EI benefits.

Default earnings rule:

Once the waiting period has been served, claimants can keep 50 cents of EI benefits for every dollar earned or received while on claim, up to a maximum of 90 percent of the weekly earnings used to establish their EI benefit rate. Any earnings above this cap are deducted dollar for dollar from benefits [EI Act 19(2)].

Transitional measure

Under the working while on claim provisions of Pilot Project 20, which were in effect from August 7, 2016 to August 11, 2018, claimants had the option to revert to the provisions of an earlier pilot project (Pilot Project 17). Claimants who meet certain criteria have the option of the following alternate earnings rule:

  • Once the waiting period has been served, claimants can earn the higher of $75 or 40 percent of their weekly benefit rate each week, before any deduction was made from their benefits. Any amount earned that exceeded this amount is deducted dollar for dollar from benefits.

Eligible claimants who choose to revert during Pilot Project 20 will continue to have this second option for a period of up to three years (until August 14, 2021).

The option to revert to Pilot Project 17 does not apply to claimants in receipt of sickness, maternity and special benefits for the self-employed, unless they had previously reverted a non- sickness, maternity or self-employment claim. This is because they did not previously have this option, and therefore would not meet the requirement of having reverted on a claim during the period covered by Pilot Project 20.

The default method of treating earnings while on claim applies to self-employment claims, as well as claims where the claimant is outside Canada.

Claimants who are eligible to choose the alternate option are strongly encouraged to make the choice near the end of their claim in order to have more complete information about their specific circumstances and work pattern, making it easier to determine which option would be more beneficial.

Detailed information about the working while on claim provisions is available on the Government of Canada website.

A regulatory provision Footnote 42 was made on January 1, 2006, in the context of the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Program Footnote 43 . It stipulates that the EI maternity or parental benefits that may be paid in respect of any week for which a person has received or is entitled to receive benefits from the provincial plan are reduced by an amount equal to those provincial benefits in addition to any other deduction provided for Footnote 44 .

Thus, an amount equivalent to whatever QPIP provincial benefits a person has received or is entitled to receive in a given week will be deducted in full from whatever EI maternity or parental benefits for which the person may be eligible for that week in certain situations Footnote 45 .

When a claimant is referred to a course or program of instruction or training by the Commission or an authority designated by the Commission, earnings or allowances received under employment benefits Footnote 46 are not deducted from benefits except in accordance with the EI Regulations Footnote 47 .

When the claimant is attending a course or program of instruction to which there has been no referral the total of any allowances paid for attending that course are deducted Footnote 48 . However that Regulation excludes from deduction any allowances paid for dependent care, travel, commuting or living away from home or disability Footnote 49 .

There will be cases where the claimant attends a training course and is paid employment benefits because they did not have an interruption of earnings or qualify for unemployment benefits, or because they were disentitled from benefits. If this same claimant then subsequently qualifies for regular unemployment benefits for those same weeks, the total of those earnings or allowances paid as an employment benefit will be deducted Footnote 50 . For this regulations to apply all three conditions therein must be present

  1. the claimant originally did not have an interruption of earnings or qualify for unemployment benefits,
  2. was paid employment benefits for attending a course or program of instruction or training, and
  3. subsequently became entitled to regular unemployment benefits for those same weeks.

Earnings arising from a job not related to the course or employment activity continue to be deducted from benefits Footnote 51 .

[ October 2013 ]

[ September 2006 ]

1.9.9 Days of disentitlement

Each working day in a week for which benefit would be paid that is subject to a disentitlement will result in a deduction equivalent to one-fifth of the benefit rate Footnote 52 .

Because the fraction one-fifth is used, a working day is considered to be one of five weekdays thereby excluding Sunday and Saturday. One regulatory provision is explicit on this for disentitlements resulting from non-availability Footnote 53 ; thus, even holidays that fall on a weekday are considered to be working days.

1.9.10 Unpaid wages

When an employer is experiencing financial difficulties and is on the verge of bankruptcy or receivership, and the claimant has filed a complaint with the provincial labour authorities for delinquent payment of wages owing for work performed, the claimant is given credit for those unpaid wages and weeks of work for the purposes of establishing their claim for benefits Footnote 54 .

In these situations, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency gives the claimant credit for the unpaid portion of earnings. However, termination monies and overtime owed to the claimant, but not paid by the employer, are not included in the determination of unpaid insurable earnings Footnote 55 , this provision applies to unpaid wages only.

Unpaid wages that fall into the rate calculation period are considered when determining the benefit rate. Also, hours of work related to these unpaid wages are credited for entrance requirements and for determining the benefit duration Footnote 56 .

1.9.11 Claim for more than one type of benefits

It is not unusual for an insured person to claim more than one type of benefits during a single benefit period. This makes it infinitely more complicated to determine the number of weeks of benefit payable to him or her. In this respect, it is necessary to come to terms with the many statutory provisions that impose specific limits, depending on the types of benefit claimed, on the maximum number of benefits payable and on the duration of the benefit period.

Where the person makes a claim for various types of benefit during a single benefit period and fulfils their entitlement conditions, it then becomes necessary to determine whether the benefits claimed are payable within that benefit period. The number and type of benefits already received, the type of benefits claimed and the time elapsed since the beginning of the benefit period, are all factors that must be considered.

There are several types of benefit that are linked to the person's participation in developmental programs. When the person is employed under a work sharing agreement, the benefit period is extended by the number of weeks that the person is employed in work sharing while claiming benefits Footnote 57 .

However, when a person is participating in a job creation partnership or is attending a training course to which he or she has been referred by the authority designated by ESDC, or is employed under a ESDC approved self-employment agreement, there is no legislative provision to extend the benefit period by reason of participating in those developmental programs. In these situations, when the benefit period terminates, the person may then receive financial assistance under the employment benefits provisions Footnote 58 (Part II of the EI Act).

It would not be reasonable to produce every possible scenario for the various types of benefit in a single benefit period. However, we feel that it is appropriate to recap, in six outlines, the main rules to be taken into account for the different types of benefits claimed. Each outline sets out limits 1 and 2, which determine for each type of benefits the maximum number of weeks of benefit payable and the maximum period during which those benefits may be paid respectively. The references to the Act and Regulations are included in the outlines.

By going methodically from one outline to another, and depending on the type of benefits claimed, it can be determined whether those benefits are payable. If the claimant has reached either of the two limits, he or she will no longer be entitled to that or any other type of benefits, because the benefit period has ended.

The six outlines deal with the following:

  1. regular benefit;
  2. special benefit;
  3. work sharing benefit;
  4. job creation partnership;
  5. authorized training course benefit;
  6. approved self-employment benefit.

[ September 2006 ]

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