EI fishing benefits - While on EI

COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, there are changes to this program.

Changes to support you during COVID-19

Temporary changes have been made to the EI program to help you access EI fishing benefits. The following changes are in effect until September 25, 2021, and could apply to you:

  • the waiting period may be waived
  • a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada
  • you only need $2,500 in earnings to qualify for regular fishing or special benefits
  • we'll establish your claim using the highest earnings from either your current claim or the earnings from 1 of your last 2 fishing claims for the same season, even if you didn't fish this year
  • you'll receive at least $500 per week before taxes but you could receive more

If you were notified that you don't have enough earnings to receive benefits, contact us to request a review of your claim considering these temporary changes.

Sections on this page impacted by these temporary changes are flagged as Temporary COVID-19 relief.

7. While on EI

You cannot work full time and receive EI fishing benefits. However, you can work part time while receiving fishing benefits.

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, if you work while receiving fishing benefits and have served your waiting period. Temporary COVID-19 relief 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.

You must report all gross earnings—that is, earnings before taxes and deductions—during the week you earn them, as well as any other money you receive while collecting fishing benefits.

Receiving fishing and other types of EI benefits in the same benefit period

Under certain conditions, you may receive fishing benefits and maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care and/or family caregiver benefits during the same claim period. In this case, the benefit period would be extended to a maximum of 52 weeks, and you could receive up to 50 weeks of benefits.

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 your 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 you return 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.

It is important to note that if you have not been paid any fishing or regular benefits during your benefit period, you may be able to receive up to 102 weeks of maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care and/or family caregiver benefits in the same benefit period.

To find out whether you are eligible to receive other types of EI benefits in the same benefit period, please call our EI Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742) between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday to speak to an agent. You can also write to us or go in person to your Service Canada Centre.

Travelling outside Canada

Usually, you cannot receive EI fishing benefits while outside Canada. One measure we take to enforce this rule is to compare EI information with information from the Canada Border Services Agency. If we find you have been out of the country while collecting fishing benefits, we will try to determine whether you are entitled to those benefits. If not, we will calculate your overpayment, which you will then have to repay.

We may also impose penalties of up to 3 times your weekly benefit rate or 3 times the amount of your overpayment. As well, you may have to earn more to qualify for fishing benefits in the future.

Repaying benefits at income tax time

When you file your income tax return, you may be required to repay some of the EI benefits you received. This will depend on your net income and whether you were paid EI regular non-fishing or regular fishing benefits during the tax year.

For more information, visit the EI and repayment of benefits at income tax time page or call our EI Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742). You can also write to us or visit us in person at a Service Canada Centre.

Protecting Employment Insurance

Service Canada works to protect the EI program from misuse. One of the ways we do this is by working with employers and claimants to ensure the accuracy of the information we receive. With your help, we can reduce the amount of misuse and ensure that the EI program is used as it should be—as a program that provides temporary financial assistance to individuals who qualify.

A mistake is an unintentional act. We know claimants can make mistakes when filing their reports. Common mistakes include:

  • estimating weekly earnings instead of putting in the actual amount earned
  • forgetting to declare all the earnings received
  • writing or entering the wrong number when reporting earnings, or
  • adding the number of hours or amount of earnings incorrectly

Some mistakes can delay benefit payments, while others can affect the amount of benefits you receive—meaning you were paid more or less than you were entitled to receive.

For example, estimating your earnings can have the following effects:

  • if you estimated your earnings for 1 week and your estimate was higher than the earnings you actually received, your benefit amount will be less than it should have been. If this happens, let us know and we will adjust your file to make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled, or
  • if you estimated your earnings for 1 week and your estimate was lower than the earnings you actually received, your benefit amount will be higher than it should have been. Let us know if this happens. You will have to repay the excess amount, but we will ensure that repaying it causes no undue hardship. As well, we will adjust your file to reflect your accurate information

If you notice a mistake on a completed form or report, or if there is a change in your circumstances that could affect your EI claim, tell Service Canada immediately. This will help prevent any future problems with your claim.

Misrepresentation

If you knowingly withhold information, make misleading statements, or misrepresent the facts to make a false claim for benefits, this is considered misrepresentation. You could face severe monetary penalties or prosecution. This could also affect your future benefits. However, if you disclose your actions to Service Canada before an investigation begins, we may waive any monetary penalties and prosecutions that might otherwise apply.

Consequences of misrepresentation: Interest and penalties

Interest on debt

When EI claimants receive benefits to which they are not entitled, the amount of the overpayment counts as a debt that must be repaid.

Service Canada charges interest on this debt when it results from claimants who knowingly withhold information or make false or misleading representations or statements. However, we do not charge interest on debt that results when Service Canada makes an error in the benefit payment.

The rate of interest is the Bank of Canada average rate plus 3%. Interest is calculated daily and compounded monthly.

Penalties

A penalty may be imposed on a claimant, an employer, or an individual acting on their behalf in relation to a claim for benefits when he or she has:

  • knowingly made false or misleading representations or statements, or
  • completed a statement without declaring essential information

Here is an example of a situation where penalties may be imposed:

An EI benefit claimant goes on an ocean cruise for a month and arranges for a friend to conceal their absence by signing and returning 2 EI claimant reports. As a result, the claimant illegally received $350 in benefits for each of the 4 weeks of the cruise. After investigation, we find that this was the first time the claimant and the friend had misused the EI system. As well, we find that they both knew that what they did was illegal but they did it anyway.

In this case, the claimant will have to repay $1,400 (4 weeks of benefits at $350 per week) and may have to pay a penalty of $700 ($350 for each of the 2 false reports filed during the holiday). The friend may also have to pay a penalty of $700 for the illegal act of filing 2 false reports on behalf of the claimant.

There are many situations when a penalty may apply, and the amount could become very high. Depending on the circumstances, the maximum penalty could be up to 3 times the amount of the overpayment, 3 times the weekly benefit rate for each incident of misrepresentation, or 3 times the maximum benefit rate.

Violations

Claimants who misuse the EI program and were assessed a violation may need more insurable earnings or hours to qualify for benefits in the future. The required amount rises based on the number and seriousness of misrepresentations that have been recorded in the five-year period before the start of their claims.

Rights and responsibilities

The EI program guarantees certain rights. There are also some basic responsibilities, for both you and Service Canada.

When you apply for EI benefits, you must:

  • be capable of and available for work and unable to obtain suitable employment
  • actively search for and accept offers of suitable employment
  • conduct job search activities that increase your opportunities to find suitable employment, such as:
    • assessing employment opportunities
    • preparing a résumé or cover letter
    • registering for job search tools or with electronic job banks or employment agencies
    • attending job search workshops or job fairs
    • networking
    • contacting prospective employers
    • submitting job applications
    • attending interviews
    • undergoing evaluations of competencies
  • keep a detailed record as proof of your job search efforts to find suitable employment as we may ask you to provide that proof at any time. Therefore you must keep your job search record for 6 years
  • let us know when you refuse any offers of employment
  • report all periods when you are not available for work
  • keep your appointments with our office
  • notify us of any separation from employment and the reasons for the separation
  • report all periods of incapacity
  • obtain a medical certificate that confirms the duration of your incapacity
  • provide all other required information and documents
  • report any absences from your area of residence and/or any absence from Canada
  • report all employment, whether you work for someone else or for yourself
  • accurately report all employment earnings before deductions, in the week(s) in which they were earned, as well as any other monies you may receive

Service Canada's responsibilities

At Service Canada, we are responsible for:

  • giving you prompt and courteous service
  • advising you of the programs and services that are available to you
  • serving you in the official language of your choice
  • determining if you are eligible to receive benefits (that is, whether or not you meet the qualifying conditions specified in the Employment Insurance Act and Regulations) and determining how many weeks of benefits you can receive
  • processing all claims within the same timeframe
  • issuing your first payment no later than 28 days after the date we receive your application, if you have provided us with all the required information and if you are eligible for benefits
  • giving you accurate information about your claim, including how you can share parental benefits with your EI-eligible spouse or partner and compassionate care or family caregiver benefits with other EI-eligible family members, and whether or not you will need to serve a one-week waiting period, Temporary COVID-19 relief
  • letting you know about decisions we've made about your claim and explaining the process to follow if you disagree with a decision

For more information on rights and responsibilities, see the publication called Employment Insurance – Rights and Responsibilities.

Contacts and other useful information

EI Telephone Information Service

The EI Telephone Information Service is an automated telephone service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you would prefer to speak to a representative, call this number between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and press "0." You can get general information about the EI program, the Social Insurance Number (SIN), and your specific EI claim.

Information about your claim is updated every morning from Monday to Friday. To access information about your EI claim, you will need your SIN and access code, which you will find on the benefit statement that is mailed to you after you apply for EI benefits.

My Service Canada Account

My Service Canada Account allows you to view and update your EI information in one place using a secure website. With My Service Canada Account, you can:

  • confirm any decision made about your EI application
  • see details on your payments and deductions
  • sign up for direct deposit
  • view and update your personal information, including your mailing address, telephone number, and banking information for direct deposit
  • view your EI tax information slips
  • view all records of employment that your employers have submitted electronically in the last 2 years
  • view and print your Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions and benefit estimate
  • register to access EI special benefits for self-employed people

Register for a My Service Canada Account

Before you register, you must have your 4-digit EI access code (printed in the shaded area at the bottom of your benefit statement). You can then register for My Service Canada Account. It will take about 10 minutes to complete the registration process.
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