In Canada, employment insurance (EI) is operated by the government and provides temporary income assistance for eligible employees who cannot work. There are different types of benefits offered through EI in Canada including regular benefits and special benefits. Of course, as with any kind of insurance, there are specific eligibility requirements. Let’s take a moment to review the eligibility criteria as well as the types of benefits of employment insurance that are available to workers in Canada.
Ultimately, there are several eligibility requirements for EI in Canada. First, you must be employed in insurable employment – which means you and/or your employer have been contributing to EI premiums. Next, you can only collect EI regular benefits if you have lost a job through no fault of your own. Once you have been off work and not receiving pay for at least seven consecutive days, you can apply for EI. However, in order to qualify, you must have worked between 420 and 700 insurable hours in the 52-week period before your claim starts. Finally, you must be ready, willing and capable of working while you’re collecting benefits, and you must also be actively seeking work to qualify. Nevertheless, there are some special exceptions for eligibility so if you are not certain of your eligibility status, you should apply for benefits regardless.
So then, speaking of benefits, what are the benefits of employment insurance in Canada? Essentially, EI represents temporary income assistance for individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own. The exact amount of income assistance depends on your earnings. The basic EI rate is about 55% of your average weekly income with a maximum amount of $547/week. Also depending on the length of your employment, you may be eligible to receive EI benefits for a period of 14 weeks to a maximum of 45 weeks. The length of time you can collect benefits is also determined by the unemployment rate in your area. Additionally, a family supplement is available to individuals with children and a spouse (who receives the Canada Child Benefit) if their net family income is below $25,921 per year. This supplement can bump your EI benefits up to as much as 80% of your average weekly income, but this figure also depends on your net family income.
Finally, EI benefits are also available to certain individuals who are off work because of sickness. You may qualify for temporary income assistance through EI if you cannot work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine. Typically, the maximum length of eligibility for sickness benefits is 15 weeks. Also, you might be surprised to learn that maternity and paternity benefits through the government are also part of your EI benefits.