Employment Insurance (EI) and courses or training programs

What you should know

Often due to the difficult economic environment in which job opportunities are limited or simply out of personal interest, unemployed individuals may decide to take courses or training programs, rather than remaining inactive.

As a general rule, to be entitled to regular benefits, you must show that you are unemployed, able and willing to work and actively looking for suitable work. Therefore, if you are taking a training course on your own initiative, without being directed to do so by a designated authority, you must show, without a doubt, that taking a course is not an obstacle to your active job search or to your acceptance of appropriate employment.

Who is considered a designated authority?

Section 25 of the EI Act empowers authorized Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) staff to refer individuals to courses or training programs or any other employment activities to facilitate their return to the labour market.

ESDC also has agreements with a number of provinces and public and private organizations to act as designated authorities that may direct an individual who is receiving EI benefits to:

  1. courses or training programs that individuals will take at their own expense, or
  2. any other employment activity for which this person is receiving financial assistance.

You have been referred to a course or training program

When you are referred to a course, a training program or to participate in an employment activity by a designated authority you are considered unemployed, capable of and available for work during the entire period in which you are taking this course, this training program or participating in this employment activity. As a result, you continue to receive EI benefits.

Similarly, if, on the recommendation of a designated authority, you leave your employment to take a course or training program or to participate in an employment activity, you are considered to be justified in leaving your employment, as long as you leave within a reasonable period, which is generally 2 weeks or less before the beginning of the training or employment activity. To know more about voluntary leaving.

You are taking a course on your own initiative

Taking a course or training program on your own initiative, without being directed to do so by a designated authority, does not automatically result in the loss of regular benefits. Although participation in a course is commendable, you must show that you are available to work while you are attending school. It is essential that you continue to look for work and that taking a course does not prevent you from being available to work or from accepting any appropriate offer of employment during normal working hours. You need to be ready to make all the necessary arrangements to hold a job or even drop the course if necessary.

You need to notify us if you are taking a course or training program

You must declare your participation in a course or a training program when you present your claim for benefits or when you are completing your report by Internet or by telephone. You can declare your participation in a course or a training program by completing and submitting the “Course or Training Program” form using MSCA.

Full-time course or program

If you are taking a full-time course or training program without having been directed to do so, you must complete the Training course information questionnaire. It is important to return it as soon as possible, in order to avoid needless delays in the payment of your benefits and also to ensure that you are not receiving benefits to which you are not entitled.

Part-time course or training

If you are taking a part-time course or training program, please visit your Service Canada Centre to provide us with the following details:

  1. Do you normally work daytime hours on a Monday to Friday basis, in your usual occupation?
  2. Are all of your courses below the university level?
  3. Would you leave this course if it conflicted with a full-time job?
  4. Are all your courses held in the evening, after 6:00 p.m. or on weekends?
  5. Is the total number of hours of attendance equal to or less than 10 hours per week?
  6. What are the names of the courses and training institutions?
  7. What are the course start and end dates?

Your training or course information will be given to an agent for a decision. If you are not entitled to benefits, you will be notified by telephone or by letter.

Different training programs are offered

ESDC offers a wide variety of training programs to individuals who require assistance to overcome real or potential obstacles in labour market. To find out about the different alternative that can be offered to you, please consult: