Section 3: Duration of benefits and amounts paid

If I am entitled to receive benefits, what amount can I expect to receive?

For most people, the basic rate for calculating benefits is 55% of the weekly average insurable earnings. Effective January 1, 2018, the maximum yearly insurable earnings is $51,700. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $547 per week.

Note
These amounts are reviewed each year. For the most recent amounts, visit the Service Canada website.

If you are a member of a low-income family, your benefit rate may be higher.

Your EI benefits are taxable. This means that federal and provincial or territorial taxes, where applicable, will be deducted from your payment.

Definitions

Average insurable earnings: The average income earned on which EI contributions were paid. This is used to calculate the weekly benefit rate to which you are entitled.

Maximum yearly insurable earnings: The highest amount of income on which EI contributions can be paid.

Qualifying period: The qualifying period is the 52 weeks before the start of your claim (or the time since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter).

How do you calculate the amount of my benefits?

Need more information on the divisor used to calculate benefits? See Table 2 in Section 3.

Note
The Employment Insurance rate and the maximum amount are reviewed each year. For the most recent amount, visit the Service Canada website.

We will calculate the amount of your weekly benefits based on your total earnings before deductions during the “best weeks” in your qualifying period. (This includes tips and commissions.) Your qualifying period is the 52-week period prior to the start date of your EI claim. Your best weeks are the weeks that you earned the most money. In regions of Canada with the highest rates of unemployment, we will calculate using the best 14 weeks; in regions of Canada with the lowest rates of unemployment, we will use the best 22 weeks. In other regions, the number of weeks used to calculate benefits will be somewhere between 14 and 22, depending on the unemployment rate in those regions.

The amount of weekly benefits is calculated as follows:

  • We calculate your total earnings for the required number of best weeks based on the information you provide and/or your Record of Employment.
  • We determine the divisor (number of best weeks) that corresponds to your regional rate of unemployment (see Table 2).
  • We divide your total earnings for your best weeks by the corresponding divisor in Table 2 below to obtain an average.
  • We then multiply the result by 55% to obtain the amount of your weekly benefits.

Note
The divisor cannot be less than 14 or greater than 22.

Table 2: Divisor used to calculate benefits based on the regional rate of unemployment
Regional rate of unemployment Divisor (number of best weeks)
6% or less 22
6.1% to 7% 21
7.1% to 8% 20
8.1% to 9% 19
9.1% to 10% 18
10.1% to 11% 17
11.1% to 12% 16
12.1% to 13% 15
13.1% or more 14

Below are some examples that will help you better understand how your benefits are calculated.

Example 1

  • Julie applies for EI benefits after working full-time for a full year (52 weeks).
  • She lives in a region where the unemployment rate is 13.1%, so we will calculate her benefits using her best 14 weeks during the qualifying period.
  • The divisor is therefore 14.
  • Julie’s total earnings over the 14-week period are $10,400.
  • To calculate Julie's weekly average insurable earnings, we divide her earnings by the divisor as follows: $10,400 ÷ 14 = $743.
  • To calculate the amount of her weekly benefits, we calculate 55% of $743, which equals $409.

Example 2

  • Mark applies for EI benefits after working 18 weeks during the previous 52 weeks.
  • He lives in a region where the unemployment rate is 6.1%, so we will calculate his benefits using his best 21 weeks during his qualifying period.
  • The divisor is therefore 21, even though it is greater than the number of weeks Mark worked.
  • Mark’s total earnings over the 21-week period are $9,000.
  • To calculate Mark's weekly average insurable earnings, we divide his earnings by the divisor as follows: $9,000 ÷ 21 = $429.
  • To calculate the amount of his weekly benefits, we calculate 55% of $429, which equals $236.

Example 3

  • Since the start of his last claim, Robert worked 30 weeks.
  • He lives in a region where the unemployment rate is 11.5%, so we will calculate his benefits using his best 16 weeks during his qualifying period.
  • The divisor is therefore 16.
  • Robert’s total earnings over the 16-week period are $5,100.
  • To calculate Robert’s weekly average insurable earnings, we divide his earnings by the divisor as follows: $5,100 ÷ 16 = $319.
  • To calculate the amount of his weekly benefits, we calculate 55% of $319, which equals $175.

For how long will I receive benefits?

The number of weeks for which you may receive benefits is determined at the beginning of your benefit period and depends on the following:

  • the regional rate of unemployment; and
  • the number of hours of insurable employment that you accumulated in your qualifying period.

You can receive regular benefits for a period that varies from 14 to 45 weeks. However, the benefits corresponding to the number of weeks payable must be paid within a maximum of 52 weeks following the start date of your benefit period. If, for any reason, you interrupt your benefit claim, you cannot reactivate it after this 52-week period, even if you have not yet received all the benefits to which you were entitled.

Note
The number of weeks for which you may receive benefits does not change even if you move to another region after your benefit period begins.

You will stop receiving benefits once the first of the following has occurred:

  • all the weeks of benefits to which you were entitled have been paid to you;
  • the maximum duration of 52 weeks was reached; or
  • you requested to have your active benefit claim terminated to file a new claim (you must, however, meet the eligibility requirements).
Table 3 – Number of weeks of benefits that will be paid based on the number of hours of insurable employment and the regional rate of unemployment
No. of hours of insurable employment in the qualifying period 6% and under More than 6% but not more than 7% More than 7% but not more than 8% More than 8% but not more than 9% More than 9% but not more than 10% More than 10% but not more than 11% More than 11% but not more than 12% More than 12% but not more than 13% More than 13% but not more than 14% More than 14% but not more than 15% More than 15% but not more than 16% More than 16%
420-454 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 26 28 30 32
455-489 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 24 26 28 30 32
490-524 0 0 0 0 0 0 23 25 27 29 31 33
525-559 0 0 0 0 0 21 23 25 27 29 31 33
560-594 0 0 0 0 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
595-629 0 0 0 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34
630-664 0 0 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35
665-699 0 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35
700-734 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
735-769 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
770-804 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37
805-839 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37
840-874 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38
875-909 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38
910-944 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
945-979 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39
980-1014 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
1015-1049 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40
1050-1084 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41
1085-1119 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41
1120-1154 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42
1155-1189 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42
1190-1224 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43
1225-1259 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43
1260-1294 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
1295-1329 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
1330-1364 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45
1365-1399 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45
1400-1434 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 45
1435-1469 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 45
1470-1504 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 45 45
1505-1539 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 45 45
1540-1574 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 45 45 45
1575-1609 29 31 33 35 37 39 42 43 45 45 45 45
1610-1644 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 45 45 45 45
1645-1679 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 45 45 45 45
1680-1714 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 45 45 45 45 45
1715-1749 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 45 45 45 45 45
1750-1784 34 36 38 40 42 44 45 45 45 45 45 45
1785-1819 35 37 39 41 43 45 45 45 45 45 45 45
1820- 36 38 40 42 44 45 45 45 45 45 45 45

The benefit period can be extended to a maximum of 104 weeks in certain situations, but the number of weeks that benefits can be paid will not change. The benefit period can be extended if your benefits are interrupted because you find yourself in one of the following situations:

  • you were confined to a jail, penitentiary, or other similar institution and later found not guilty;
  • you temporarily received compensation payments for a work accident, illness, or injury;
  • you received severance pay from your former employer;
  • your newborn or newly adopted child was hospitalized; or
  • you were pregnant or breastfeeding and stopped working because, otherwise, your health or your child's health would have been in danger and, accordingly, you received benefits under a provincial law.

In this case, with the exception of severance payments from your employer, it is up to you to request an extension of your benefit period and to provide supporting evidence, if requested. To find out how to proceed, visit the Service Canada website and click on "Access My Service Canada Account" or call 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742).

What will happen if I work or receive other payments during my benefit period?

That depends on your situation. Two types of income can affect your EI benefits:

  • income earned while you are receiving EI benefits; and
  • payments made to you by your employer when you stop working.

If you work and earn income while receiving benefits

You cannot work full-time while receiving regular benefits as you will no longer be considered unemployed. However, you are entitled to work part-time and keep a portion of your benefits.

If you work while receiving regular benefits and have served your waiting period, you will be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI benefit amount. This 90% amount is called the earnings threshold. If you earn any money above this threshold, we will deduct it dollar for dollar from your benefits.

For more information, visit the Working While on Claim page.

When you work and receive benefits at the same time, you must not combine the hours and earnings of more than one week. It is essential that you report your work earnings and hours during the week in which you worked.

If you notice that you made an error on your report (for example, if you forgot to report some work hours or you did not report them in the right week), tell us immediately so that we can make the necessary corrections.

Other Income while receiving benefits

Many types of income are considered earnings to be deducted from benefits payable to you. You must report any income you receive to Service Canada when you file your benefit claim and if you receive income during your claim, you must indicate this on your reports. Some examples of income which may be received are:

  • damages and interest for wrongful dismissal;
  • call-back pay;
  • a partial payment of an amount owed;
  • income from self-employment; or
  • income from a pension plan through the employer, a pension plan for military service or work in a police force, the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan, or provincial employment plans.

Note
In certain situations, a retirement pension may not be deducted from EI benefits. If you return to work while in receipt of a retirement pension and accumulate sufficient insurable hours after the start of your pension payments to establish a new claim, while still in receipt of the retirement pension, the pension payments will not be deducted from benefits on your new claim.

Some income has no effect on your regular benefits, including:

  • pension payments from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a registered retirement income fund (RRIF);
  • disability pensions;
  • survivor or dependent benefits;
  • additional voluntary contributions that are paid into a pension fund;
  • the Old Age Security pension;
  • the portion of the pension payable to the spouse in the event of a legal separation or divorce; or
  • a pension paid by Veterans Affairs Canada.

If your employer made a payment to you when you stopped working

When you stopped working, you may have received severance pay, vacation pay, or an amount that was put into an RRSP. If this is the case, the date on which you begin to receive benefits may be delayed.

For example, if you received severance pay equal to 12 weeks of earnings, the payment of your regular benefits will be delayed by 12 weeks, whether you received this amount as a lump-sum payment or it was paid to you over 12 weeks. In this situation, you will still have to file a benefit claim as soon as you become unemployed so that your claim can be processed as quickly as possible.

You may also receive severance pay, vacation pay, or termination pay after filing your benefit claim. These amounts must also be reported; they will be processed in the same way as if you received them when your employment ended. The addition of these amounts to your insurable earnings may, among other things, extend the duration of your benefit claim or increase the amount of the benefits to which you are entitled.

However, you could be in a situation where you do not know whether you will receive the severance pay that you are owed (for example, if your employer declares bankruptcy). You may be required to pay back part or all of the EI benefits that you received if severance pay was paid to you afterwards. If you believe that you are in this situation, contact us. If you receive vacation pay or pay in lieu of notice following a layoff, these amounts are insurable and will be included in the calculation of your weekly average earnings.

If you receive money during the waiting period

Any amounts you earn or are allocated during the one-week waiting period, including vacation pay or severance pay, will be deducted during the first three weeks in which you should receive benefits, because there is no allowance for earnings during the waiting period. These amounts are deducted dollar for dollar.

Note
These three weeks do not have to be consecutive or immediately follow the one-week waiting period.

For each example, the dates indicated always represents Sunday.

Example 1 – Total amount of earnings deducted during the first week of benefits

Anne is unemployed and filed a claim for benefits, which was approved. Her benefit period began on January 7. She had to serve a one-week waiting period, from January 7 to January 13. Her first week of benefits began on January 14. Her weekly benefit amount is $300.

She received vacation pay of $195 during the one-week waiting period. Normally, this amount must be deducted in the first week during which benefits are to be paid. However, since this amount is less than the amount of her weekly benefits ($300), it will be deducted only in the first week of benefits, which began on January 14. The calculation is the following: $300 (amount of benefits) – $195 (amount of vacation pay) = $105. Therefore, Anne will receive $105 in her first week of benefits. There will be no other amount to deduct afterward.

Example 2 – A portion of earnings deducted in the first three weeks of benefits and remaining amount set aside after this period

Frédéric is unemployed and filed a claim for benefits, which was approved. His benefit period began on January 7. He had to serve a one-week waiting period, from January 7 to January 13. His first week of benefits began on January 14. His weekly benefit amount is $400. However, since filing his claim, Frédéric has gone back to work.

Any person who receives EI benefits can usually earn up to $50 per week or 25% of their weekly benefit, whichever is higher. Any money earned above that amount will be deducted dollar for dollar from their benefit.

However, during the Working While on Claim pilot, earnings are deducted from benefits at a rate of 50% of the claimant’s earnings each week, if the earnings are equal to or less than 90% of the claimant’s weekly insurable earnings that were used to calculate their benefit rate. Any earnings that exceed this 90% threshold will be deducted dollar for dollar from benefits.

As of January 1, he earned the following amounts:

  • vacation pay of $395 that was paid to him in the week of January 7 (the first week of the waiting period)
  • earnings of $350 in the week of January 14 (the first week of benefits)
  • earnings of $380 in the week of January 21 (the second week of benefits)
  • earnings of $360 in the week of January 28 (the third week of benefits)

Since he received vacation pay of $395 in the one-week waiting period, $395 must be deducted from his benefits over three weeks as of January 14.

The first week in which he received benefits began on January 14. He earned $380 in that week. The calculation is the following:

$400 (amount of benefits) - $190 (50% of $380) = $210

An amount of $210 should be paid to him, but he will not receive any money during this week because he received earnings during the waiting period and the amount of $210 must be deducted from the total amount that he has to pay back ($395) as follows: $395 – $210 = $185. Therefore, a deduction of $185 remains.

The second week in which he received benefits began on January 21. He earned $380 in that week. The calculation is the following:

$400 (amount of benefits) - $190 (50% of $380) = $210

An amount of $210 should be paid to him, but a deduction of $185 remains. He will receive $25 during this week.

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