General information

Employment Insurance (EI) frequently asked questions

1. Is your employment insurable?

To know if your employment is among the insurable employments and if EI premiums should be deducted, refer to Canada Revenue Agency.

2. How and where do I apply for EI benefits? 

To apply for EI benefits, you must submit an application for EI online. This can be done at home, at a public internet access site (public library for example) or at your Service Canada Centre. To access the application for EI Benefits go to Applying for Employment Insurance benefits online.

3. How do I request EI payments on behalf of a deceased person?

If you are the person entitled to succeed to the property of the deceased person, you have to complete the form "Request for payment of benefit on behalf of a deceased person". You might have to provide these documents: a copy of a court-approved will or a notarized will and a copy of a death certificate. The Social Insurance card of the deceased person must be returned. To know more about EI benefits on behalf of a deceased person.

4. When should I apply for EI?

Be sure to apply as soon as you stop working even if you don't have your Records of Employment. Delaying in filing your claim for benefits beyond 4 weeks after your last day of work may cause loss of benefits.

If your employers issue ROEs in paper format, you must request ROEs from all your employers who issued ROEs in paper format in the last 52 weeks. However, if your employer submits your ROE to Service Canada electronically, you do not need to request a paper copy of your ROE from your employer since we will receive it electronically from your employer. On the same day your employer submits it, you will be able to view and print copies of your ROE online using My Service Canada Account.

5. Can I reactivate an old claim?

If you started a new EI claim within the last 52 weeks and there are still weeks payable on that claim, we will automatically reactivate (renew) your existing claim.

Do not start the application if you prefer to start a new claim. Instead, please contact us by calling 1-800-206-7218. Your decision to start a new claim is final and cannot be reversed.

It is important to consider:

  • If your claim is reactivated and you work after the start of that claim, you may be able to establish a new claim when your existing claim runs out.
  • In order to establish a new claim you must have enough insurable hours and meet the qualifying conditions for a new claim.
  • If a new claim is established instead of reactivating your existing claim, the remaining weeks payable on the existing claim will be lost.
  • Additionally, a two-week unpaid waiting period must be served on a new claim before you are entitled to receive payment.

6. What information/documents will I be asked for when I apply?

  • your Social Insurance Number (SIN). If your SIN begins with a 9, you need to supply proof of your immigration status and work permit.
  • a Record of Employment - If your employers issue ROEs in paper format, you must request ROEs from all your employers who issued ROEs in paper format in the last 52 weeks. However, if your employer submits your ROE to Service Canada electronically, you do not need to request a paper copy of your ROE from your employer since we will receive it electronically from your employer. On the same day your employer submits it, you will be able to view and print copies of your ROE online using My Service Canada Account;
  • personal identification such as your driver's license, birth certificate or passport if you are applying in person;
  • your complete bank information, as shown on your bank statement or a personalized blank cheque from your current account. This will ensure that your payment of benefits will be made directly to your bank account with direct deposit;
  • your detailed version of facts if you have quit or have been dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks;
  • details regarding your most recent employment :
    your total salary before deductions including tips and commissions, your salary before deductions for your last week of work, from Sunday to the last day worked, gross amounts received or to be received: vacation pay, severance pay, pension, pay in lieu of notice or lay off and other monies
  • if you are applying for sickness benefits, you must obtain a medical certificate indicating how long your incapacity is expected to last (we will advise you if we require it)
  • if you are applying for compassionate care benefits, you must obtain a medical certificate certifying that the patient has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and requires the care or support of one or more family members;
  • if you are applying for parents of critically ill children benefits, you must obtain a medical certificate completed and signed by a specialist medical doctor who is licensed to practice medicine in Canada as a specialist, attesting that your child is critically ill or injured and requires your care or support.

7. I have tried several times to obtain my Record of Employment (ROE) from my employer without success. What can I do?

If you are having difficulty obtaining your ROE(s) from your employer(s), we can help. Go to your Service Canada Centre or contact us at 1 800 206-7218. One of our agents will advise you how the ROE can be obtained or what is needed to calculate your claim.

8. How long do I have to work to be eligible to collect EI?

In most cases you must have worked a minimum of 420 to 700 insurable hours, depending on where you live in Canada and the unemployment rate in your economic region at the time your claim for benefits starts. In some instances, you will need 910 insurable hours to qualify.

9. How long can I receive EI?

You can receive EI from 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in your region at the time of filing your claim and the amount of insurable hours you have accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim, whichever is shorter.

10. How much can I receive?

The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average insured earnings up to a yearly maximum insurable amount of $48,600. This means you can receive a maximum payment of $514 per week. Your EI payment is a taxable income, meaning federal and provincial or territorial, if it applies, taxes will be deducted.

You could receive a higher benefit rate if you are in a low-income family — an income of less than $25,921 — with children and you receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), your are entitled to the Family Supplement.

11. Can I request to have additional taxes deducted from my EI benefits?

Claimants may wish to have their income tax deductions increased in order to avoid having to pay a large amount of income tax at year-end. This request can be made by phone, mail or in person.

12. How do I receive my EI payment?

Shortly after applying for EI, you will receive a benefit statement in the mail. The statement includes your Access Code (4 digit number), which is printed in the shaded area at the top of the benefit statement. Your Access Code  is needed to submit your required bi-weekly reports and to get information about your claim. Access the instructions  on when and how to complete your reports with our Internet Reporting Service  or our Telephone Reporting Service.  If you cannot complete your reports by internet or by telephone, you will need to complete and mail them to us. To find out how to complete your report by mail, just follow these step-by-step instructions.

Keep in mind that receiving a benefit statement does not mean that a decision has been made yet on your claim.

13. When should I expect my first payment?

If we have all the required information and if you qualify for benefits, your payment will be issued usually within 28 days from the date we receive your application. If you do not qualify, we will notify you of the decision made on your claim.

14. How do I get EI deposited directly into my bank account?

Generally when you use our Internet Reporting service or our Telephone Reporting Service with direct deposit, your payment is deposited directly to your bank account usually 2 business days after you submit your report.

To apply for direct deposit, you need your complete bank account information, as shown on your cheque or bank statement. Once you have this information:

15. How do I declare that I have returned to work full time?

As you complete your report, whether it is through the reporting service online, or the telephone reporting service, or by mail, you are asked if you have begun working full time. Answer "yes" and indicate the exact date you started full time work. In certain situations, you will also have to supply the dates and the number of working hours, your employer's phone number, and your gross salary, total earnings before deductions, including tips and commissions. Thereafter you will not have to submit a report anymore.

If you are receiving maternity, parental or compassionate care benefits and are returning to working full time before your benefits end, you must inform us by calling our Telephone information service at 1 800 206-7218 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and press "0" to speak to a representative. You may also provide the date of your return to work in writing or in person at your Service Canada Centre.

16. How do I inform you about my change of address or modifications to my direct deposit?

If your bank account information changes or if you move, it is important that you let us know as soon as possible. You can update your mailing address, telephone number and direct deposit information by using My Employment Insurance (EI) Information online. Please note that updates to your personal information can only be accepted during the service times for your province or territory of residence, as indicated below:

  • Atlantic Canada: from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm Atlantic Standard Time (ATS) Monday to Friday and from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm ATS Saturday and Sunday.
  • Quebec: from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) Monday to Friday and from 6:00 am to 4:30 pm (EST) Saturday.
  • Ontario: from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) Monday to Friday, from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm EST Saturday and from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST) Sunday.
  • Western Canada: from 7:30 am to 10:00 pm Central Time (CT) Monday to Friday and from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm (CT) Saturday and Sunday.

17. How does working while collecting EI affect the duration of a claim?

If you start working before you finish your current EI claim, you must tell us so we can adjust or stop your claim, depending on whether the work is full-time, part-time or by contract. If the work is short-term or contract you may re-activate your EI claim and continue to receive your bi-weekly payments when you are laid off.

The maximum period of time in which you can carry out one claim is 52 weeks. An EI claim will end if:

  • all EI benefits to which you were entitled have been paid; or
  • the 52 week duration is reached; or
  • you request and qualify for the termination of your claim.

To start a new claim you must work the minimum number of insurable hours required for regular benefits. The number of minimum hours depends on where you live and the unemployment rate in your economic region at the time of filing your claim.

18. What is the EI premium rate and how does it affect me?

As of January 1st, 2014 you must pay EI premiums on all your earnings up to the annual maximum salary of $48,600. The EI premium rate is set to $1.88 for every $100 of salary until $48,600 has been reached. The maximum contribution amount will be $913.68.

For employees working in Quebec, the EI premium rate is set to $1.53 for every $100 of salary until $48,600 has been reached. The maximum contribution amount will be $743.58 for these individuals.

Employment Insurance - Important Notice about Maximum Insurable Earnings for 2015

Employment Insurance - Important Notice about Maximum Insurable Earnings for 2014

There is no age limit for deducting EI premiums. In fact, if you are working in insurable employment, your employer deducts from you salary the applicable EI premiums, whatever your age. To know more on Payroll Deductions and Remittances.

19. What are the earnings that may affect my EI payment?

Earnings paid or payable by your employer at the end of your employment, while you are receiving benefits or later for a period that benefits were claimed, generally affect payment of your benefits. To know more about EI and the various types of earnings.

20. Can I get EI if I quit my job?

Generally, when you voluntarily quit your job without just cause, you will not be paid regular benefits. After quitting your job, you must work the required minimum number of insurable hours to receive regular benefits. However, you may still be paid maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care and/or PCIC benefits as long as you qualify for these benefits. To know more about EI and voluntarily leaving.

21. Can I get EI if I am fired from my job?

Generally, when you are fired from your job due to your own misconduct you will not be paid regular benefits. After losing that job, you must work the required minimum number of insurable hours to get regular benefits. However, you may still be paid maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care and/or PCIC benefits as long as you qualify for these benefits. To know more about EI and fired for misconduct.

22. How can I replace my Access Code?

You can call our Telephone information Service at 1 800 206-7218 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and press "0" to speak to a representative or go to your Service Canada Centre. In both cases, questions will be asked to verify your identity and a new Access Code will be issued.

23. Is interest charged on EI debts?

Yes, interest is charged, but only on debts resulting from misrepresentation. To know more about Interest charged on debts.

24. Can deductions be taken from my EI Benefits if I owe money to a person, company or a government agency?

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.