EI regular benefits: While on EI
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 Employment Insurance (EI) program to help you access EI regular benefits. The following changes are in effect until September 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
- if your region’s unemployment rate is higher than 13.1%, we’ll use the higher actual rate to calculate your benefits
- you only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits because you’ll get a one-time credit of 300 insured hours to help you meet the required 420 insured hours of work
- you’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, but you could receive more
- you’ll be eligible for up to 50 weeks of regular benefits
- if you received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
Sections on this page impacted by these temporary changes are flagged as Temporary COVID-19 relief.
7. While on EI
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 regular 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.
When you work and receive benefits at the same time, you must report your work earnings and hours for each week you work, in the week in which the work occurred.
To report your work earnings and hours, consult: Employment Insurance reporting
If you receive other payments while receiving EI, some types of earnings will be deducted from your EI benefits, while other types of income have no impact on your EI benefits. You can refer to the earnings chart to find out if a payment constitutes earnings for benefit purposes and, if so, how those earnings are allocated.
Outside of Canada while on EI
You are not usually eligible to receive regular benefits while you are away from Canada. However, you may receive regular benefits if you show that you are available for work in Canada while abroad. You must also notify Service Canada of your travel by filling out a travel form on My Service Canada Account (MSCA) or through your bi-weekly report.
You can be outside Canada for a period of 7 consecutive days for the purpose of:
- attending the funeral of a member of your immediate family or a close relative
- accompanying a member of your immediate family to a medical facility, provided that the treatment sought is not readily available in the family member's area of residence in Canada
- visiting a member of your immediate family who is seriously ill or injured
- attending a bona fide job interview
You can be away from Canada for a period of 14 consecutive days for the purpose of conducting a bona fide job search.
If you indicate that you have taken measures to be reached if an employment opportunity presents itself during your absence and that you are able to return to Canada within 48 hours, we will accept that you have proven your availability.
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 benefits, we will determine whether you were entitled to receive those benefits. If you were not entitled to receive them, we will calculate how much we overpaid you, and you will then have to repay the benefits.
We may also impose penalties of up to 3 times your weekly benefit rate or three times the amount of your overpayment. As well, you may have to work more hours or, in the case of fishing benefits, you may need more insurable earnings to qualify for benefits in the future.
What support is available to help you find a job
Use My Service Canada Account to get more information about your EI claim
You can get more information about your EI claim through My Service Canada Account (MSCA). You can also register for Alert-Me to receive e-mail alerts when important new EI claim information is available in your MSCA.
Changing your address or requesting direct deposit information
Using MSCA is the most convenient way to update your personal information, including your mailing address, telephone number, and banking information for direct deposit.
If you don't already have an account, you can easily create one using your 4-digit EI access code (printed in the shaded area at the bottom of your benefit statement).
Receiving regular benefits and other types of EI benefits at the same time
You can normally receive up to 50 weeks of benefits when regular benefits are combined with maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care or family caregiver benefits in the same benefit period (of 52 weeks).
The only exception is when EI regular benefits and extended parental benefits are paid during the 52-week period. As extended parental benefits are paid at a benefit rate of 33% of your average weekly insurable earnings, 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 regular 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 52-week benefit period will be extended to allow for the additional weeks to be paid.
It's important to note that you can’t receive more than 1 type of benefit at the same time.
Who can take care of an EI claim on your behalf
If you are unable to manage your own affairs due to health problems, a person other than an Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) employee may be appointed to act on your behalf. In that case, the form Appointment of Representative must be completed and returned with your EI application.
If you are eligible for EI, ESDC will authorize the payment of benefits to the representative acting on your behalf.
Requesting EI payments on behalf of a deceased person
When a person dies, EI benefits payable to that person up to and including the day of the death may be paid to the legal representative Footnote 1 , or to a person authorized to inherit property of the deceased person.
If the deceased person had not applied for EI benefits, the legal representative must do the following, in the name of the deceased person, before benefits can be paid:
- apply for benefits in the name of the deceased person
- complete the form Request for Payment of Benefit on Behalf of a Deceased Person
- provide a death certificate issued by the province or territory, a certificate from the director of a funeral home or an administrator of a hospital or clinic, or a letter from a physician, graduate nurse, or member of the clergy
If the deceased person was receiving EI benefits before death, the legal representative must complete the form Request for Payment of Benefit on Behalf of a Deceased Person to cancel these benefits.
If EI benefits are paid after the death of someone in your family, the legal representative must repay the overpayment by making a cheque or money order to the Receiver General for Canada and sending it to the nearest overpayment recovery office.
It is important to notify the federal government of a death as quickly as possible to avoid overpayment of other benefit types.
The EI Work Sharing Program assists employers and employees facing lay-offs due to a decline in production. With the Work Sharing agreement, available work is redistributed through a voluntary reduction in hours worked by all employees within one or more work units. This enables the employer to retain a full work force on a reduced work week, rather than laying off part of his or her work force. Employees are able to remain on the job and maintain skills and working habits and avoid uncertainties and hardship associated with total unemployment.
Deductions can never be taken for money owed directly to a person or company. However, deductions can be taken from your EI benefits to repay money you owe, if:
- you received an overpayment from EI
- you received an advance or assistance from the Government of Canada or any of its agencies, a provincial or municipal government, or any other authority and an arrangement has been taken with EI for the deduction. Your consent must be given in writing to the deduction and payment by EI. Example: you received an advance from a Social Services agency while waiting for your EI benefits to start
- the Department of Justice issued a court order, according to the Family Orders and Agreements (FOA) Enforcement Assistance Act. Your EI benefits are garnished and forwarded to the Department of Justice that ensures payment to your spouse / dependents, according to the existing court order
- The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may collect taxes owing according to the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act or other provisions enforced by the CRA. Any taxes owing to federal or provincial governments may be garnished from your EI benefits
Protecting EI — with your help
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
- declaring net earnings instead of gross earnings
- 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.
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
- 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.
Consequences of 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.
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.
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.
Claimants who misused 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 5-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.
You have the right to:
- file a claim for EI benefits
- receive any benefits that are owing to you
- request a reconsideration of any decisions we make about your benefits that you find unsatisfactory
- see any government record that contains your personal information, and
- be served in the official language of your choice
As a claimant of EI benefits, your responsibilities include:
- be capable of and available for work and unable to obtain suitable employment
- actively search for and accept offers of suitable employment. For further information on what constitutes suitable employment, visit the Employment Insurance section of the Canada.ca website
- 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
- 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
- you are not required to have employers sign your job search form or provide you with a letter confirming that you have applied for a job
- 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
- accurately 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
If we decide to pay you benefits even if you quit, were fired for misconduct, refused work, or are involved in a labour dispute, we will notify your employer. If an employer believes that our decision is not justified, they can request a reconsideration of that decision.
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, 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
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 1 800 206-7218 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. 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
- view current and past claim messages
- sign-up for Alert Me to receive email alerts when you have new important EI claim information
- 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 benefits for self-employed people
How you register for 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.
Find other benefits
There may be more for you than EI regular benefits. Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
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