Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 1 - Section 5

1.5.0 Extension of benefit period

The benefit period is the 52 week period, beginning with the start date of an EI claim, during which a claimant may receive EI benefits. EI benefits are not payable beyond the 52 week period, unless a claimant is eligible for an extension to their benefit period.

The extension provides a longer period of time during which the claimant can receive the weeks of benefits to which they may be entitled. The fact that a benefit period may be extended, does not change the total number of weeks that may be paid for each type of benefits.

1.5.1 Grounds for extension of the benefit period

Budget 2021 measures alert – Temporary measures are in place from September 26, 2021 to September 24, 2022 which affects the following information:

  • earnings paid due to a complete severance from the employer will not extend the benefit period

A claimant’s benefit period is extended for the total number of weeks the claimant can prove they were not entitled to benefits, during their benefit period, because of one of the following reasons:

  1. they were confined in a prison or similar institution, when a claimant provides proof they were not found guilty of the charge(s) that led to their incarceration
  2. they were in receipt of earnings because of a complete severance from their employer
  3. they were in receipt of workers compensation payments for an illness or injury
  4. they were in receipt of payments under a provincial law for the preventative withdrawal of work on the basis of having ceased work because continuing work would have resulted in a danger to the claimant, her unborn child or a child whom she was breast-feeding
  5. the hospitalization of a child for whom maternity or parental benefits are requested
  6. their parental leave was deferred due to imperative military requirement – Canadian Forces members only

The earnings described at (2), (3), and (4) above must completely prevent the payment of any benefits.

An extension may be granted on any of these grounds provided the ground occurs before the benefit period ends. For example, the benefit period will not be extended if one of the above conditions occurs on the Sunday following the Saturday on which the benefit period ended.

a1.5.1.1 Confinement in a prison or similar institution

In order to qualify for an extension on this ground the claimant must have been confined in a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution and be able to provide proof that they were not found guilty of the offence(s) that led to their confinement. This could mean that the charges were later withdrawn, or the claimant was in fact found not guilty, and therefore not convicted (EI Act 10(10)(a)).

If this condition is met, an extension of the benefit period will be granted, even when other reasons may exist which would not be grounds for extension, no matter the order of events. For example, a claimant who is on vacation and not available for work for three days would be disentitled for those days, and entitled to two days of benefits. If the claimant is then incarcerated for the balance of the week, no benefits would be payable for that week. If it is later determined that the claimant was not found guilty of the charges leading to incarceration, although it was not solely that incarceration that prevented payment for that week, as it reduced the benefits payable to zero, an extension may be granted for that week.

1.5.1.2 Earnings due to complete severance from employer

Budget 2021 measures alert – Temporary measures are in place from September 26, 2021 to September 24, 2022 which affects the following information:

  • earnings due to a complete severance from the employer are not allocated and will not extend the benefit period

When moneys received by reason of a complete severance of the employer-employee relationship are allocated to weeks in a claimant's benefit period, an extension of the benefit period can be granted (EI Act 10(10)(b)).

A complete severance of the employer-employee relationship is considered to occur when the claimant retires, resigns or quits, is fired by the employer, or is laid off and there is no expectation that they will be recalled (e.g. the Record of Employment states “not returning”).

Seasonal workers will be considered to have a complete severance when they are released at the end of the season. However, if there is evidence or knowledge of an on-going contract of employment, then there is no complete severance of the employer-employee relationship.

Where the allocation of moneys prevents payment of benefits for a week, an extension for that week may be allowed.

Where the allocation of moneys is for a part week only and no benefits are payable because the claimant is disentitled for the full week, no extension can be granted since the allocation did not prevent, in whole or in part, payment of benefits.

Where benefits were payable despite the disentitling condition (i.e. a 2-day disentitlement) and the extension condition prevented payment of those benefits, the extension would be granted for that week.

1.5.1.3 Workers’ Compensation payments

Budget 2021 measures alert – Temporary measures are in place from September 26, 2021 to September 24, 2022 which affects the following information:

  • the terms “minor attached” and “major attached” do not apply as the number of insurable hours required to be eligible for all regular and special benefits has been adjusted to 420

A claimant may have the benefit period extended if they were in receipt of Workers’ Compensation payments for an illness or injury (EI Act 10(10)(c)). This includes all Workers’ Compensation payments (e.g. rehabilitation, training, etc.) other than a permanent settlement of workers’ compensation payments.

Weeks counted for the extension are those where the earnings completely prevented the payment of EI benefits, or prevented the claimant from serving the waiting period. Workers' compensation payments are deducted based on the type of benefits being claimed.

A disability pension or permanent settlement of workers' compensation payment is not considered earnings and does not prevent the payment of EI benefits. Therefore, in such case, it would not allow for an extension. It should also be noted that payments under a wage-loss plan, an employer's disability plan, or payments for a motor vehicle accident under the Quebec motor vehicle accident insurance are not considered workers' compensation payments due to an illness or injury. They therefore do not allow for the extension of the benefit period.

It is possible that a person who had suffered an injury at work may be denied EI benefits for two reasons. This would be the case for a minor attachment claimant (has less than 600 hours of insurable employment in their qualifying period) who has stopped work because of an injury, and was receiving workers' compensation payments which also prevented the payment of EI benefits. The receipt of the worker’s compensation payments allows for extension, but the fact that they had insufficient hours to qualify for benefits, does not. In such a case the extension may be granted since the claimant only has to meet one of the grounds for extension, regardless of what occurred before or during the existence of that reason. Although special benefits could not be paid, the claimant could later become entitled to regular benefits during the extended benefit period.

1.5.1.4 Payment for preventative withdrawal from work

An extension can be granted for any week during which a person was in receipt of payments under a provincial law when they stopped working because continuing to work would have entailed danger to the claimant, the claimant's unborn child, or the child she is breast feeding (EI Act 10(10)(d)).

In order to prove such a situation, the claimant may be required to provide documentation that specifies the exact nature of the payments, as well as the period for which these payments were made.

When two reasons exist which prevent the payment of benefits, one which allows extension and the other does not, then as discussed earlier, the extension will be granted.

1.5.2 Grounds for extension when special benefits are claimed

The legislation allows for many combinations of special benefits to be paid within a benefit period. It also defines the maximum number of weeks of special benefits payable within a benefit period.

In situations where a claimant is not able to collect the maximum number of weeks for the specific types of special benefits claimed within the existing benefit period, the benefit period may be extended if certain conditions are met. This is so the claimant may be paid the maximum weeks allowed for the types of special benefits claimed.

This provision allows for an extension to the time period during which special benefits may be paid. Only the types of special benefits that were paid during the original benefit period can be paid in the extended period.

The benefit period can only be extended to a maximum length of, the shorter of 104 weeks, or the number of weeks that would allow a claimant to serve the waiting period and receive the maximum special benefits requested.

This extension can only be granted to a claimant when no regular benefits have been paid in the original benefit period. Furthermore, the benefit period will end when the maximum of each type of benefits requested has been paid. However, an extension for these reasons cannot result in a benefit period of more than 104 weeks.

1.5.2.1 Parental benefit period when child hospitalized

The period during which parental benefits can be claimed starts the week of birth for a newborn, or the week a child is actually placed with the claimant for adoption, and continues for the 52 weeks that follow in the case of standard parental benefits, or the 78 weeks that follow in the case of extended parental benefits.

This 53 or 79 week period (parental window), as well as the benefit period, can be extended if the child for whom parental benefits are being claimed is hospitalized during this period. The benefit period may be extended by one week for each week or part week during which the child is in the hospital, up to a maximum of 104 weeks.

The parental provisions which allow parents to care for their child or children during a period critical to the children's development, and the extension provisions, allow flexibility as to when the parental benefits may be received.

1.5.2.2 Parental benefit period for military families

To provide more flexibility for Canadian Forces members caring for a newborn or adopted child, the EI parental window and benefit period may be extended up to a maximum of 104 weeks. This extension is available to Canadian Forces members who cannot collect all their parental benefits during the 52 week benefit period for standard parental benefits, or the 78 week benefit period for extended parental benefits, as they have been called back to duty (imperative military requirement). The claimant may be required to provide confirmation from the Department of National Defence (EI Act 10(12.1)). The imperative military requirement may either delay the start of, or interrupt the parental leave.

1.5.3 Calculation of extension of the benefit period

To be entitled to an extension of the benefit period, the claimant must prove that during the benefit period, benefits were not payable because of one of the conditions previously described.

When one of the conditions exists for a full week and this condition prevents the payment of any benefits, the week can be counted as a week for extension purposes.

When one of the conditions exists for less than a full week, the week can be counted if at least one dollar of benefits would have been payable for the week, had this ground not existed. If no benefits are payable, the week is counted as a full week for extension purposes.

1.5.4 More than one reason preventing payment

It often happens that two reasons for disentitlement exist at the same time during a benefit period, and one constitutes a valid ground for extension whereas the other does not. In order to be granted an extension, the legislation only requires that a claimant prove that one of the qualifying grounds for extension prevented the payment of benefits for the week in question (EI Act 10(10)). A claimant may be disentitled for a partial week, which reduces the amount of benefits payable for that week. If a valid ground for extension prevents the balance of benefits from being payable for the same week, an extension can be granted for that week.

1.5.5 Determining a week of benefits paid

Weeks for which benefits have been paid or deemed payable, cannot be counted as extension weeks.

A week of benefits is considered to have been paid when:

  • at least $1 of EI benefits was paid;
  • a week of definite disqualification was served;
  • the benefits were used to reimburse an overpayment or a penalty under Section 38 of the EIA;
  • benefits were withheld for an assignment of benefits;
  • benefits were withheld pursuant to a Family Order Agreement.
  • the claimant received provincial benefits for a birth or adoption, such as QPIP benefits.

1.5.6 Extension due to Work-sharing

Work-sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid temporary layoffs when there is a reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the employer’s control. The program provides income support to employees eligible for EI benefits, who are willing to work a temporarily reduced workweek.

EI Regulation 45 allows for an extension of the benefit period of one week for every week during which the claimant was employed in work-sharing employment. This allows claimants, in most cases, to access other types of benefits, should they become unemployed after the period of the work-sharing agreement.

In order to qualify for the extension, a claimant must have worked a minimum of ½ hour for the work-sharing employer, in the week for which the extension is allowed.

[October 2018]

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