Variable Best Weeks

Changes to the way Employment Insurance benefits are calculated

Starting April 7, 2013, Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are calculated using your highest weeks of earnings over the qualifying period (generally 52 weeks). This change makes EI more fair, flexible and responsive to regional economic conditions.

Benefit to claimants

The new benefit rate calculation ensures the rate of benefit you are paid is based on your “best weeks” of insured employment in your qualifying period. If you experience sporadic work patterns, EI benefit rates will better reflect your weeks of higher earnings.

The number of weeks used will range from 14 to 22, depending on the unemployment rate in your EI economic region.

Number of variable best weeks calculation rates
Regional rate of unemployment Required weeks
6% or less 22
6.1% to 7% 21
7.1% to 8% 20
8.1% to 9% 19
9.1% to 10% 18
10.1% to 11% 17
11.1% to 12% 16
12.1% to 13% 15
13.1% or more 14

To find out the rate of unemployment in your region, visit EI Program Characteristics.

Once the weekly benefit rate is established, it will remain unchanged over the life of your claim.

If you are applying for special benefits for self-employed people or fishing benefits, this change will not affect you.

Qualifying period

Rules for determining the qualifying period and grounds for extension of the qualifying period have not changed. When determining the highest weeks of earnings to establish your benefit rate, earnings from fishing or self-employment are not considered.

To ensure you are paid the maximum EI benefit rate that you are entitled to, complete the Claimant Attestation form with the required information about your highest weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks of employment or since the start of your last claim, whichever is the shorter period of the two.

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