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Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

Region: Ontario Answer # 7211

CERB has ended. Canadians who continue to need income support due to circumstances related to COVID-19 could be eligible for either new, temporary, simplified Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or one of three new Canada Recovery Benefits.

Under temporary changes to the EI program, regular benefits provide 26 weeks of income replacement, while sickness benefits provide up-to 15 weeks. Regular benefits are available to eligible people who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own, and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job. Sickness benefits are available for those who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine.

Changes to EI benefits

There are a number of changes to the EI program to help Canadians needing support during COVID-19. Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours an individual has worked in the year prior to their application, or since their last claim. Under the new program, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:

  • 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss)
  • 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver)

The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year.

As well:

  • for individuals who received CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended
  • the minimum weekly amount payable is $500 for regular or sickness benefits
  • the minimum weekly amount payable is $300 for extended parental benefits
  • changes will be in effect for 1 year

How to make a claim

Individuals who did not receive CERB but now find themselves needing EI because of COVID-19 should apply in the regular way through Service Canada. For those who received CERB and have received their last payment, how they apply for EI depends on how they received CERB:

Service Canada: Most people who were collecting CERB through Service Canada will automatically transition to EI and do not need to apply.

Canada Revenue Agency: Individuals who received CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) must now make an application for EI through Service Canada.

Other individuals who must make a new application for EI benefits include:

  • People with 900-series social insurance numbers, such as temporary foreign workers and international students.
  • Self-employed workers who received benefits through Service Canada.
  • Canadians who received CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency but could have 120 insurable hours and could meet other eligibility criteria.

What is required to continue receiving EI benefits?

Recipients must make “reasonable and ongoing job search efforts” while receiving EI. This can include:

  • contacting employers
  • preparing a resume or cover letter
  • registering and searching job banks
  • submitting job applications

What if you are not eligible for EI: Canada Recovery Benefits

The government created three new benefits for Canadians affected financially by COVID-19 who don’t qualify for EI. The new benefits are subject to parliamentary approval, but if passed, would apply retroactively to begin as of September 27, 2020. The new benefits are:

  1. The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) for self-employed or gig workers who don’t qualify for EI.
  2. The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSC) for workers who are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.
  3. The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) for people who can’t work because they need to care for a child or dependent for reasons related to COVID-19.

More detailed information on Employment Insurance, including the types of benefits, eligibility requirements, and how to apply can be found in Employment Law.  Visit the Government of Canada EI website for more information on the temporary changes to EI benefits.

For up-to-date information on Coronavirus COVID-19, visit Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and our related links and resources.

Get help from a life insurance advisor

Understanding life insurance and what is best for you can be overwhelming. It is important to get professional advice for your unique situation, and it is more affordable than you think. Life insurance can protect your family, your home and your business.  For a free consultation and quote, contact an Empire Life Insurance advisor.


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