Employment Insurance benefits and farmers

If you are a farmerFootnote 1 who engages in farmingFootnote 2 activities in Canada and you also work in insurable employment (usually under a contract of service, as an employee), you may be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

If you are a farmer who has income from operating a farm, you may be able to register for EI special benefits for self-employed people.

If you are unsure of your employment status (employee or self-employed) or whether or not your employment is insurable, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Under the Employment Insurance Act, CRA is responsible for determining whether or not your employment is insurable.

Eligibility details

The following eligibility criteria for farmers for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are based on insurable employment.

You may be eligible for EI benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • you have accumulated enough insurable hours to qualify for EI benefits, even if you have self-employment earnings
  • you meet the entitlement criteria for the type of EI benefit you applied to receive
  • you demonstrate that you are unemployed through no fault of your own for each week you claim EI benefits
  • you are actively looking for another job and are ready, willing, and capable of working each day (in the case of EI regular benefits)
  • your farming activities (self-employment) are determined to be minor in extentFootnote 3

You are not entitled to EI benefits if you are working a full work weekFootnote 4. If your main source of income is from operating a business, including farming, and your self-employment/farming activities are not considered to be minor in extent, you are considered to be working a full work week. Therefore, you are not unemployed.

As a self-employed farmer, you are considered to be working a full work week during the period from April 1 to September 1. However, during the period between the week of October 1 and the week following March 31, you may be able to receive EI benefits if you accumulated insurable hours elsewhere while working for an employer and your self-employment activities on the farm are so small that it is not your principal means of living during that period.

What you need before you start

  • your social insurance number (SIN)
    • If your SIN begins with a 9, you must provide proof of your immigration status and your work permit
  • the last name at birth of one of your parents
  • your mailing and residential addresses, including the postal codes
  • your complete banking information to sign up for direct deposit, including:
    • your financial institution name
    • your bank branch number
    • your account number
  • the name, address, dates of employment, and reason for separation for all your employers for the last 52 weeks
  • your detailed version of facts (if you quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks)
  • the dates (Sunday to Saturday) and earnings for each of your highest paid weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is the shorter period
    • this information will be used, along with your record(s) of employment, to calculate your weekly EI benefit rate

You may also have to provide the following details if you are reactivating an existing claim:

  • the salary amount you received, before deductions, for the last week you worked (from Sunday to your last day of work), including tips and commissions
  • any other amounts you received or will receive, such as:
    • vacation pay
    • severance pay
    • pension payments
    • pay in lieu of notice
    • other money

You may also have to gather the following related information, depending on your situation:

  • if you are applying for parental benefits, you must provide the SIN of the other parent
  • if you are applying for sickness benefits, you must obtain a medical certificate
  • if you are applying for caregiving benefits, you must provide a medical certificate and information about the person needing care or support, such as first and last name, date of birth, and residential address

Start Application

After you submit your application

Shortly after applying for EI, you will receive a benefit statement in the mail with your access code and instructions on how to complete and submit EI reports every two weeks. Receiving the benefit statement does not mean that your EI application has been approved.

Use your access code to register for a My Service Canada Account, where you can view and update your EI information.

Additional Information

Service Canada will let you know in writing if you are entitled to receive EI benefits. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to request a reconsideration.

You can work while receiving EI benefits, but you must report your earnings and hours worked. Your benefits may be reduced due to these earnings and hours.

Earnings that you receive as a result of operating a farm are considered to be self-employment earnings.

To find out more about the Farming Benefit, please read the EI and self-employed, farmers and independent workers Guide, contact your nearest Service Canada office or call our EI Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742).

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