Amount of weekly benefits

The weekly benefit amount is 55% of the “average weekly earnings” from the calendar year before you submit an application for EI special benefits. In 2014, the maximum rate is $514 per week. The amount of your benefits may decrease if you continue to work or if your business generates earnings while you are collecting EI special benefits.

Before weekly benefits can be determined, your eligible earnings will need to be identified.

If you have earnings from both self-employment and insurable earnings as an employee, you may choose to apply for EI special benefits as a self-employed person or as an employee.

If you are applying as a self-employed person, we will take into account your earnings from both self-employment and employment as an employee when we calculate your weekly benefit amount, as long as your earnings from both sources are eligible. You must provide your Record of Employment to show details of your earnings as an employee.

If you are applying as an employee, we will use only the earnings from your employment as an employee (including fishing earnings) to calculate your weekly benefit amount. We will not use any of your self-employed earnings. You must provide your Record of Employment (available from your employer) to show details of your earnings as an employee.

Income tax return information

If you have already filed your income tax return for the year before the year you submit an EI claim, we will obtain the amount of your self-employed earnings from the Canada Revenue Agency.

If you have not filed your income tax return for the year before the year you submit an EI claim, you will be asked to provide an estimate of your income from self-employment. Your benefit amount will be calculated based on the estimate you provide, and any necessary adjustments will be made after you file your income tax return. If your estimate is higher than your actual income, you may have to repay EI benefits.

See the examples for more details on how the weekly benefit is calculated.

While claiming EI special benefits, you must complete reports to demonstrate your continuing entitlement.

Shortly after you file your application for benefits, we will mail you an EI benefit statement indicating the date your first report is due and your access code for the EI Internet Reporting Service. You will also receive instructions on how to file your reports. Keep these instructions to use as a guide.

Working while you receive benefits

If you are claiming sickness or maternity benefits, we will deduct any part-time earnings from your benefits on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

If you are claiming parental, compassionate care or parents of critically ill children benefits, you can earn either a maximum of 25% of your weekly benefit (if your weekly benefit amount is $200 or more) or a maximum of $50 (if your weekly benefit amount is less than $200) without changing the amount of EI benefits you receive for that week. We will deduct any money you earn above that amount from your benefits on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

However, effective August 5, 2012 until August 1, 2015, a pilot project is in place which changes the way earnings are deducted

Under the Working While on Claim (WWC) pilot project, once you have served your waiting period, your benefits will be reduced by a rate of 50% of your earnings each week if the earnings are equal to or less than 90% of your weekly earnings that were used to calculate your benefit rate. Any earnings that exceed the 90% threshold will be deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.

Remember that you must always declare all your earnings in your bi-weekly reports.

Business generating self-employment earnings for you while receiving benefits

Any EI benefit amounts paid or payable to you may be affected if your business generates earnings, including earnings you receive from profits or commissions, while you are in receipt of benefits.

If you have self-employment earnings from services performed, they are allocated to the week or weeks when the services were performed.

If you have self-employment earnings from a transaction, including farming earnings, they are allocated as follows:

  • If the earnings are greater than the maximum yearly insurable earnings divided by 52 ($935 in 2014), they are allocated to the week or weeks when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction (you must let Service Canada know when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction).
  • If the earnings are less than or equal to the maximum yearly insurable earnings divided by 52 ($935 in 2014), they are allocated to:
    • the week the transaction occurred; or
    • the weeks when the work was performed that gave rise to the transaction, if you inform Service Canada that the work was performed in more than one week.