Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles   Chapter 15 - Section 7

15.7.0 Special benefits

Once a fishing benefit period has been established, EI special benefits such as sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care and family caregiver benefits are payable, if the claimant meets the entitlement conditions for the type of benefits claimedFootnote 1.

Special benefits are subject to the maximums established by the EI ActFootnote 2. Where regular benefits were not paid, fishers are entitled to receive special benefits to a maximum of 102 weeks depending on the types of special benefits combined in a benefit period Footnote 3 .

The maximum number of combined weeks of regular fishing benefits and special benefits must not exceed 50 weeks. The only exception is when EI fishing benefits and extended parental benefits are paid. As extended parental benefits are paid at a benefit rate of 33% of a claimant’s weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount, once 50 weeks of benefits have been paid, the weeks of extended parental benefits will be converted to an equivalent number of weeks that would have been paid at the 55% benefit rate. This conversion will determine how many more weeks of fishing benefits and special benefits can be paid to reach the equivalent of 50 weeks paid at the 55% benefits rate. Any weeks where the claimant returns to work during this period will be considered weeks paid for the purposes of calculating the equivalent of 50 weeks paid at the 55% benefit rate. Once the number of additional weeks that can be paid is determined, the benefit period will be extended to allow for the additional weeks to be paid. Refer to Chapter 13 of the Digest for further information on this conversion calculation.

The rulesFootnote 4 put in place pursuant to the implementation of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan on January 1, 2006, also apply to fishing claims.

15.7.1 Provisions regarding payment of special benefits

A fisher who is claiming special benefits qualifies to receive the benefits if the person:

  • is not qualified to receive regular benefits Footnote 5 ; and is major attached, i.e., has at least $3760 of insurable earnings from fishing in the qualifying period Footnote 6

When the above conditions are met, a benefit period is established and special benefits are payable according to the provisions of the EI Act and the EI Regulations Footnote 7 .

The exception to this is when a fisher has accumulated a violation on a previous claim. Violations range from minor to subsequent with a related increase in the insurable earnings from fishing required to qualify for benefits.

A claimant is not entitled to be paid special benefits for a working day in respect of which the claimant fails to prove that on that day, the claimant was:

EI Fishing Regulations 12(4):

  1. unable to work because of an illness, injury or quarantine and that the claimant would otherwise be available for work, or
  2. entitled to maternity, parental, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits Footnote 8 .

However an amendment to this section of the Fishing Regulations introduced an exception for claimants who are in receipt of EI fishing parental benefits:

(4.1) A claimant to whom benefits are payable under subsection 23(1) of the Act and whose claim for benefits because of illness, injury or quarantine is made for a week that begins on or after the day on which this subsection comes into force is not disentitled under paragraph (4)(a) for failing to prove that they would have been available for work were it not for the illness, injury or quarantine.

Claimants in receipt of EI fishing parental benefits who wish to convert their parental benefits to sickness benefits, and who provide proof of incapacity, are exempt from proving that they are otherwise available for work.

Regular fishing benefits and additional special benefits are payable to a claimant who has received special benefits where:

  1. the claimant has accumulated, since the beginning of the benefit period, insurable earnings from employment as a fisher that, when added to the insurable earnings in the qualifying period, equal or exceed
    1. The applicable amount of insurable earnings in employment as a fisher set out in the schedule, determined by reference to the week in which the benefit period Footnote 9 and
  2. regular fishing benefits or additional special benefits are payable in that fishing benefit period based on the insurable earnings in the claimant's qualifying period Footnote 10 .
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