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Sickness benefits

Region: Ontario Answer # 615

Most employees in Ontario are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits if they are sick or injured. There are rules to determine who qualifies for sickness benefits, how much you are entitled to, how long you can collect the benefits for, and how to apply.

Who qualifies for sickness benefits?

Generally, to qualify for sickness benefits, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have paid EI premiums;
  • You must be unable to work due to illness or injury, or are quarantined;
  • Your regular weekly earnings must have been decreased by more than 40%; and
  • You have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks.

If you stop working because of illness and you are entitled to paid sick leave from your employer, you must use all your sick leave credits before being eligible for EI sickness benefits. If you are receiving Worker’s Compensation, called Workplace Safety and Insurance benefits, you will generally not be eligible for sickness benefits. However, if you become sick or injured and you are already receiving another kind of EI benefit, such as maternity or parental benefits, you may also be eligible for sickness benefits.

How long do sickness benefits last?

The number of weeks of benefits you could receive depends on the date your claim begins:

  • before December 18, 2022: up to 15 weeks
  • on or after December 18, 2022: up to 26 weeks

If you return to work and then have to leave again for the same sickness or injury, your benefits may be reinstated. However, your benefits will have to be used up within one year from the day you originally applied for benefits or you must re-apply.

How much can you receive?

In most cases, you are entitled to 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up-to a maximum amount. The amount paid is based on a maximum yearly insurable earnings amount. Effective January 1, 2023, the maximum insurable earning amount has increased from $60,300 to $61,500. The maximum weekly EI benefit rate has increased from $638 to $650 per week.

Applying for sickness benefits

To receive sickness benefits, submit an application online on the Government of Canada website. Applications should be made as soon as possible after an employee stops working. The application process is the same as making an application for regular EI benefits.

Before you apply, you will need to get a medical certificate signed by a doctor to submit with your application. The medical certificate should explain your condition, why you cannot work, and how long you will be off work.

Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits

If you have a severe illness or disability that may prevent you from working for a prolonged period of time, consider applying for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability benefits. The CPP Disability benefit is a monthly payment available to people who contributed recently to the CPP while they worked, and then became unable to work at any job on a regular basis because of a disability.

Get help

For more information about EI sickness benefits, or if you wish to submit an application, refer to the Government of Canada EI Sickness Benefit Overview. For legal help and assistance with employment matters, contact an employment lawyer.

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