EI Regular Benefits - Eligibility

From Employment and Social Development Canada

2. Eligibility

The following information is a guideline. We encourage you to apply for benefits so our processing agents can determine if you are eligible.

You may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits if you:

  • were employed in insurable employment;
  • 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;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day;
  • are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them).

You may still qualify for benefits, even if you work for an employer who is related to you.

Refer to the following links for eligibility information for these specific situations:

You may not be entitled for benefits:

  • if you voluntarily left your job without just cause
  • if you were dismissed for misconduct
  • if you are unemployed because you are directly participating in a labour dispute (for example, a strike, lockout or other type of conflict)
  • during a period of leave that compensates for a period in which you worked under an agreement with your employer, more hours than are normally worked in full-time employment.

You are not entitled to receive EI benefits while you are confined to a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution.

If you have been incarcerated but are later found not guilty by a court of law on all counts in relation to the event that led to your incarceration, your qualifying period and benefit period may be extended upon providing necessary proof.

Once you have applied for EI benefits, you will be asked to provide Service Canada with proof that you were confined to a jail, penitentiary or other similar institution and that you were not found guilty of the offence(s) from the event(s) for which you were being held.

For a qualifying period or benefit period to be extended, you will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • a letter from the institution where you were incarcerated, specifying the dates of your incarceration;
  • documentation showing that no other outstanding charge(s) in relation to the event(s) that originally led to the incarceration exist, to confirm the time served is not being credited to any other charge(s) in relation to the original event or any other subsequent event;
  • proof that you have not been found guilty of the charge(s) from the original event that led to your incarceration.

Keep these documents in a safe place. Service Canada will contact you and provide you with instructions on how to submit them.

Number of hours of insurable employment required to qualify for EI

The number of hours of insurable employment you need to qualify for EI depends on your situation. However, in all cases, the hours of insurable employment that are used to calculate your benefit must have been accumulated during your qualifying period.

The qualifying period is the shorter of:

  • the 52-week period immediately before the start date of your claim; or
  • the period from the start of a previous benefit period to the start of your new benefit period, if you applied for benefits earlier and your application was approved in the last 52 weeks.

Exception: In some cases, the qualifying period may be extended to a maximum of 104 weeks if you were not employed in insurable employment or if you were not receiving EI benefits.

You will need to have accumulated between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period to be entitled to receive EI regular benefits.

If you received a notice of violation regarding prior EI benefit periods, the number of insurable hours required to qualify is increased.

The number of hours is shown in the following table:

Number of hours of insurable hours required to qualify for benefits
Regional rate of unemployment Without violation Minor violation Serious violation Very serious violation Subsequent violation
6 % and under 700 875 1050 1225 1400
6.1 % to 7 % 665 831 998 1164 1330
7.1 % to 8 % 630 788 945 1103 1260
8.1 % to 9 % 595 744 893 1041 1190
9.1 % to 10 % 560 700 840 980 1120
10.1 % to 11 % 525 656 788 919 1050
11.1 % to 12 % 490 613 735 858 980
12.1 % to 13 % 455 569 683 796 910
More than 13 % 420 525 630 735 840

You must accumulate 600 insurable hours to qualify for sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, or parents of critically ill children benefits.

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