Employment Insurance temporary measures – Questions and answers

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This page provides information on Employment Insurance temporary measures during the period between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022. For more information on Employment Insurance program rules, see Employment Insurance benefits and leave.

Minimum unemployment rate

What unemployment rates will apply starting September 26?

For new claims established as of September 26, 2021, the program will revert to using the actual regional unemployment rates as produced by Statistics Canada, as opposed to the minimum rate of 13.1% that has been used since September 2020 as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

This means that if you establish a new EI claim on or after September 26, 2021, the actual unemployment rate for your economic region will be used to calculate your maximum benefit duration. Claims that are established before September 26, 2021 will not be impacted by this change.

Benefit duration will be based on the combination of your hours worked in the qualifying period as well as the regional unemployment rate. As of September 26, 2021, all eligible claimants will be able to receive a minimum of 14 weeks of benefits up to a maximum of 45 weeks.

For new claims that begin between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021, there will be a $300 minimum benefit rate. Benefit rates will be calculated by averaging a claimant’s highest earning weeks (14 to 22 “best weeks”) in their qualifying period.  If a claimant has less than the number of “best weeks” then their benefit will rate will be determined based on the average of the number of weeks in their qualifying period in which they had earnings.

For claims established on or after November 21, 2021, the benefit rate will be calculated based on the customary variable best weeks method. The number of best weeks used will range from 14 to 22, depending on the unemployment rate in your EI economic region.

In addition, a uniform entrance requirement for EI regular benefits at 420 hours of insurable employment as of September 26, 2021 for a 1 year period provides a minimum entitlement of 14 weeks of regular benefits, up to a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks in EI economic regions with higher unemployment rates.

High unemployment rate

Michael, from Northern Manitoba, lost his job in the tourism sector and is eligible for EI, having worked 420 hours of insurable employment. He began claiming EI Regular benefits the week of October 3, 2021 at the new minimum benefit rate of $300* per week. When Michael began his claim, the unemployment rate in his region was 30.4%. The number of weeks of regular benefits a claimant can receive varies depending on the unemployment rate of a claimant’s region and the number of hours they worked in their qualifying period (generally the last 52 weeks before their claim or since the beginning of their last claim). If Michael remains unable to find employment, he will be entitled to 32 weeks of regular benefits since he has worked 420 hours of insurable employment.

*Note: $300 is the minimum that Michael could receive per week for a claim established between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021.

Low unemployment rate

Sylvie, from South Central Quebec, lost her job in the hospitality sector and is eligible for EI, having worked 500 hours of insurable employment. She began claiming EI Regular benefits the week of October 3, 2021 at the new minimum benefit rate of $300* per week. When Sylvie began her claim, the unemployment rate in her region was 4.0%. The number of weeks of regular benefits a claimant can receive varies depending on the unemployment rate of a claimant’s region and the number of hours they worked in their qualifying period (generally the last 52 weeks before their claim or since the beginning of their last claim). If Sylvie remains unable to find employment, she will be entitled to 14 weeks of regular benefits since she has worked 500 hours of insurable employment.

*Note: $300 is the minimum that Sylvie could receive per week for a claim established between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021.

Eligibility criteria

What do I need to qualify for EI regular benefits?

For EI claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022, you will need 420 hours of insurable employment to qualify for regular benefits. This is the entrance requirement for all regular benefit claims within this period, regardless of where you live in Canada. The regular entrance requirement normally ranges from 420 to 700 hours depending on the regional unemployment rate where you live.

Other standard EI eligibility criteria continue to apply, meaning you must also:

  • have been employed in insurable employment
  • have lost your job through no fault of your own
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • be ready, willing and capable of working each day, and
  • be actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them)
How many hours do I need to qualify for EI special benefits?

For new EI claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022, you will need 420 hours of insurable employment to qualify for all types of special benefits.

What is the new earnings threshold for self-employed fishers?

If you are a self-employed fisher establishing an EI claim between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022, you will need $2,500 in fishing earnings to qualify for regular fishing or special benefits.

What is the new earnings threshold for self-employed workers?

Self-employed workers who have opted in can access EI special benefits using an earnings threshold of $5,289 for claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022.

What are the new rules surrounding the treatment of reasons for separation?

For new EI claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022, if you apply for EI regular benefits and your most recent job separation was through no fault of your own, all your insurable hours and earnings in the qualifying period will count.

Normally, hours and earnings from any employment that ended in an invalid reason for separation would not count for the purposes of determining eligibility or the benefit rate for EI benefits.

What if I am not eligible for EI or if I have exhausted my benefits?

If you have exhausted your EI benefits and are no longer eligible for EI, you may be eligible for the CRB if you meet the eligibility criteria.  (See Who can apply: Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)).  However, if you have worked while on your EI claim, you may be able to establish a new EI claim.  To determine your EI eligibility, you should make an EI claim before applying for the CRB (See EI regular benefits: Apply).

For example:

Ahmed is eligible for EI and lost his job in September 2020. He began claiming EI regular benefits on September 27, 2020 and claimed the full 50 weeks of entitlement (receiving the minimum benefit rate of $500 per week), ending his EI claim on September 11, 2021. Still unable to find employment, Ahmed intends to apply for the additional 4 weeks of CRB (at $300 a week) which would allow him to receive benefits until October 9, 2021.

Benefit amount

What is the minimum amount an EI claimant can receive?

For new EI claims established between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021, you will receive a minimum benefit rate of $300 per week, or $180 per week for extended parental benefits, less applicable taxes.

If you are Working While on Claim, the amount you receive will vary as you can keep 50 cents of your benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90 percent of your weekly earnings used to calculate your benefit rate. Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.

Do any monies I received as separation when I was laid off affect the payment of EI benefits?

As a temporary measure, monies paid to you by your employer by reason of separation (including severance pay and vacation pay when paid by reason of separation) when you are laid off will not affect the payment of your EI benefits. This is in effect until September 24, 2022.

Receiving benefits

When will I get my first payment?

You are eligible for an EI payment at the end of the 2-week period when you are out of work.

You'll receive your first payment about 28 days after you apply if you're eligible and have submitted all required information. If you're not eligible, we'll notify you of the decision made about your application.

To receive a payment, EI clients need to complete their bi-weekly reports online or through the telephone reporting system. Clients who do not complete their reports every 2 weeks will not be paid their benefits, even if they are eligible

When applying for EI benefits, be sure to sign up for direct deposit to get payments as quickly as possible. When using direct deposit, EI payments are deposited automatically into an applicant’s bank account 2 business days after Service Canada processes their EI report.

Do I have to exhaust my severance pay or vacation pay before receiving my EI payment?

No, not for EI claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022. During this period, workers will be allowed to collect monies paid to them by their employers by reason of separation (including severance pay and vacation pay when paid by reason of separation) at the same time as they collect their EI benefit payments.

How long will my EI claim last?

Your EI entitlement will depend on the number of insurable hours in your qualifying period and your region of residence. The maximum number of weeks ranges from 14 to 45.

You can log into your My Service Canada Account to obtain details of your EI benefits claim, including how much you will receive every week as well as the number of weeks of benefits available to you. Additional information on how much you could receive on EI is also available.

Can I be confident that my information in My Service Canada Account is secure?

The Government of Canada has put in place significant and robust measures to protect the information Canadians entrusted to us. Like every other government and private sector organization in the world, we face ongoing and persistent cyber threats.

As such, the government has systems and tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats, and to neutralize threats when they occur.

A client’s password remains the most prevalent authentication mechanism. By controlling access, passwords help ensure that your account and information is protected. Weak and compromised passwords are a leading cause of breaches. Clients are encouraged to review the best practices that enable strong passwords.

Additionally, ESDC’s webpages have valuable resources to support clients who may have concerns related to:

  • Protect yourself against fraud
  • Fraud Awareness and Reporting
  • Online fraud reporting tool
  • Employment Insurance and fraud
Do I need to report every 2 weeks to keep getting my claim?

Yes.

You must complete and submit bi-weekly reports online or by phone to show your eligibility and to receive the benefits you are eligible for. Failure to do so can mean a loss of benefits.

As part of the bi-weekly reporting, you will be expected to include information on any earnings you received in that period, including the name and address of your employer, as well as confirming that you were available and seeking work (for periods when not working).

Will I need to serve a waiting period before I can access my EI benefits?

The waiting period was waived for all EI claims established between January 31, 2021 and September 25, 2021. Claims established on or after September 26, 2021 will be required to serve the standard 1-week waiting period required under EI program rules.

What happens if I had an open EI claim that I have not yet exhausted? Do I get a choice between resuming that claim or opening a new one depending where I might receive more money?

If you have weeks remaining on an EI claim, Service Canada will automatically reactivate (renew) that claim at the existing benefit rate.

You may also request that Service Canada end your existing claim and open a new EI claim, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.

If you choose to end your existing claim, any remaining weeks payable on that existing claim will be lost and your decision is irreversible and not subject to reconsideration.

How will I be expected to prove I am looking for work when there are no jobs available because of ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a general rule, to be entitled to EI regular benefits, you must show that you are unemployed through no fault of your own, able and willing to work and actively looking for suitable employment. Evidence of job search could include, for example, records of applications for work, job interviews, job search activity on the national Job Bank, etc.

Can employers use a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan to increase their employee’s weekly earnings?

Yes.

Employers that wish to do so may submit a SUB plan to Service Canada. By registering a plan, employers can make payments to employees who are receiving EI regular or sickness benefits. Payments from SUB plans that are registered with Service Canada are not considered as earnings for the purposes of Employment Insurance and are not deducted from EI benefits.

If I am unable to work for other reasons related to COVID-19, for example because I am sick or because my child’s school is not available, do I have to take my EI benefits first?

No.

You don’t need to take your EI benefits before you apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. All the recovery benefits will continue to be available to eligible individuals until October 23, 2021. The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is available for up to 42 weeks and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is available for up to 4 weeks.

However, you cannot get EI and the Recovery Benefits or any other paid leave at the same time.

Do I need to provide a medical note to prove I am sick and cannot work when applying for EI sickness benefits?

Workers applying for EI sickness benefits on or after September 26, 2021 must be able to prove with a medical certificate that they are sick and unable to work.

How long do I have to have stopped working before I can qualify for EI?

There will still need to be 7 consecutive calendar days with no work and no insurable earnings from an employer (interruption of earnings) to qualify for EI regular benefits. For EI special benefits, regular weekly earnings from work must have been decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week.

Has anything changed in terms of Records of Employments and Reason For Separation?

The existing rules requiring employers to prepare a Record of Employment (ROE) indicating the Reason for Separation (RFS) remain in place. In particular:

  • employers who use the paper record of employment (ROE) must have it issued within 5 days of an employee’s interruption of earnings, and
  • employers who issue electronic ROEs must to do so within 5 days after the end of the pay period containing the employee's interruption of earnings

The majority of ROEs are received in electronic format.

If I am a parent who has to stay home and claim the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, will those weeks be deducted from my EI entitlement if I then apply for EI?

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) provides support for eligible workers who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care in specific situations related to COVID-19. These caregiving situations are not covered by the EI program.

While you cannot receive the CRCB and EI benefits for the same week, the receipt of the CRCB does not otherwise affect your entitlement to EI benefits.

All the recovery benefits will continue to be available to eligible individuals until October 23, 2021. The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is available for up to 42 weeks and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is available for up to 4 weeks.

Can I access Employment Insurance benefits if I am unable to return to my employment due to an underlying medical condition?

As the economy gradually opens, the Government of Canada encourages workers who are able to return to work to do so, provided it is reasonable based on their individual circumstances.

If you are not employed or self-employed for reasons related to COVID-19 or are working and have had a reduction of at least 50 per cent in your employment/self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), which has been extended until October 23, 2021. The CRB is available for up to 54 weeks.  It is important to note that you need to be available and looking for work and must accept work where it is reasonable to do so to maintain your eligibility.

If you are unable to work at least 50% of your regular work schedule because you have an underlying condition that may make you more susceptible to COVID-19, you may be eligible for up to 4 weeks of benefits through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which has also been extended until October 23, 2021.

In order to be eligible for EI sickness benefits, the illness, injury or quarantine must be the reason for the incapacity to work. In other words, the claimant must be able to demonstrate that if it were not for that illness, they would be available to work.

Workers quarantined as a result of COVID-19 can apply for the EI sickness benefit. However, a claimant with an underlying medical condition could only be eligible for sickness benefits if that underlying condition rendered them incapable of performing the duties of their employment or of other suitable employment. You would not be eligible for EI regular benefits nor the CRB if you voluntarily quit your job. 

Employers are required to provide safe working conditions. Therefore, you are encouraged to discuss your concerns with your employer to find an approach that works.

If you are concerned about the safety of your working conditions, you can consult the following resources:

  • if you work in a federally-regulated workplace, you may wish to consult your workplace health and safety committee or health and safety representative as well as the document “Right to refuse dangerous work
  • otherwise, you may wish to consult the website for the department of labour in your province or territory for further information on your rights and the process you should follow
  • the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is another possible resource

Work-Sharing/Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

How will my EI benefits be calculated if I am part of a Work-Sharing agreement?

Information specifically on Work-Sharing benefits is available.

EI and training

If I have chosen to pursue full time training before looking for a job, can I receive EI benefits?

No.

As a general rule, to be entitled to EI regular benefits, you must show that you are unemployed, able and willing to work and actively looking for suitable employment, unless you were participating in training opportunities you were referred to by a province or territory. This is not changing.

As is always the case, if you decide on your own to take training, it must be declared and you must prove that you are still able and willing to work and are continuing to look for a job to continue receiving EI benefits.

You must be ready to make arrangements to work if you receive a job offer, and to change or cancel training plans if necessary.

If you take training on your own and cannot show that you were available for work while taking that training, you may have to pay back EI benefits.

Earnings threshold for self-employed

How has the earnings threshold changed for self-employed workers?

Self-employed workers who have opted in can access EI special benefits using an earnings threshold of $5,289 for claims established between September 26, 2021 and September 24, 2022.

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