Eligibility criteria :
You must meet the following criteria to qualify for insurance benefits :
- You were employed in insurable employment;
- You lost your job through no fault of your own;
- You have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
- You have worked for the required number of hours in the qualifying period;
- You are ready, willing and able to work each day;
- You are actively looking for work.
You may be ineligible for Employment Insurance in the following cases :
- You voluntarily left your job without just cause;
- You were dismissed for misconduct;
- You are unemployed due to a labour dispute, such as a strike;
- You are on compensatory or deferred leave;
- You are being held in a custodial institution.
Waiting period : Time that is eligible for Employment Insurance, but for which no benefit is paid (equivalent to an insurance deductible). This period is currently one week. For example, if you qualify for 12 weeks of benefits, 11 weeks will be paid. This should not be confused with the processing time for an application, which is less than 28 days in 80% of cases.
Insurable hours : Hours actually worked as an “employee.” The number of insurable hours during the qualifying period determines eligibility for Employment Insurance and the number of weeks of benefits.
Variable best weeks : Used to determine the base salary for calculating benefit amounts for workers with variable income. The number of weeks considered is based on the regional unemployment rate.
Qualifying period : The 52 weeks preceding the date of the claim or the period from the start date of a previous claim, whichever is shorter. The period may be extended in exceptional circumstances.
Regular benefits : The Employment Insurance benefits that apply to unemployed workers. This type of benefit is applicable between contracts.
Special benefits : Sickness or compassionate care benefits. May complement group insurance benefits, if applicable.
An application for Employment Insurance should be sent to Service Canada as soon as possible after you stop working, and no later than four weeks after that date.
1. Service Canada verification of your file. The best approach is to call Service Canada to obtain your file number and generate an access code.
(My Service Canada Account)
2. Verification that all records of employment have been sent. The activity report issued by AQTIS, which you will find in your in-box in the members’ only section, is useful for ensuring that all employment records have been sent by the producers for whom you worked.
3. Once all the records have been received, you will need to ensure that the number of insurable hours worked in the qualifying period meets the eligible minimum. Given that the number of insurable hours required is linked to the regional unemployment rate, the following tool will help you obtain that information :
Extension of qualifying period : The qualifying period may be extended up to 104 weeks in the following situations :
Incapacity for work;
Confinement in a prison or similar institution, when a claimant provides proof that they were not found guilty for the charge(s) that led to the incarceration.
Attendance at a course or other employment-related activity following referral by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) or a designated third party;
Receipt of payments under a provincial law on the basis of having ceased to work because continuing to work would have resulted in danger to the person, her unborn child or a child she was breastfeeding.
It is important to note that maternity, paternity and parental leave (QPIP benefits) are not currently grounds for extending the qualifying period.
4. It is also important to verify the best weeks of salary during the qualifying period. The amount of benefits is determined by the best weeks. Simply validate the number of weeks required based on the regional unemployment rate. The following page indicates the number of weeks applicable: Variable Best Weeks.
5. Once the criteria have been validated, you can fill out the application form. While the process may seem onerous for someone who has had numerous employers, it is very important to provide all of the requested information, because it will impact on the value and duration of benefits. The application form can be found at : Applying for Employment Insurance benefits online.
It takes about 60 minutes to complete the form. The following information will be required :
- Social Insurance Number. If your SIN begins with a 9, you will need to provide proof of your immigration status and work permit.
- Your mother’s maiden name;
- Mailing and residential address, including postal codes;
- The branch number and name of your financial institution, as well as your account number (to register for direct deposit);
- The names and addresses of all employers you worked for in the last 52 weeks, the reasons you stopped working for them and the dates of employment;
- Detailed version of the facts, if you quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks;
- Dates (Sunday to Saturday) and earnings for each of your highest paid weeks in insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks of employment, or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is the shorter period. This information will be used, along with your records of employment, to calculate your weekly Employment Insurance benefit rate.
During the benefit period
Job search :
In 2016, the Canadian government abolished the categorization of claimants that was established in 2012 by the Conservative Government. The obligations for claimants to accept jobs at 70% of their usual pay and within 100 km of their residence have been abolished. However, the obligation to search for and accept suitable employment remains.
The criteria for determining whether employment is suitable are as follows:
- The claimant’s health and physical capabilities allow for commuting to the workplace and performing the work;
- The hours of work are not incompatible with the claimant’s family obligations or religious beliefs;
- The nature of the work is not contrary to the claimant’s moral convictions or religious beliefs.
The Regulations also specify the criteria for determining that employment is not suitable :
- It is in the claimant’s usual occupation either at a lower rate of earnings or on conditions less favourable than those observed by agreement between employers and employees, or in the absence of such agreement, than those recognized by good employers;
- It is not in the claimant’s usual occupation and it is either at a lower rate of earnings or on conditions less favourable than those that the claimant might reasonably expect to obtain, having regard to the conditions that the claimant usually obtained in the claimant’s usual occupation, or would have obtained if the claimant had continued to be so employed.
It should be noted that after a reasonable period, the criteria for determining that employment is not suitable no longer apply, and the claimant must expand the search as long as the job is as well paid and the working conditions are as good. It is also important to remember that the obligation to search for suitable work applies to the method rather than the result.
For technicians, the following are generally considered appropriate job search activities :
- Checking with your network to see if there are any contracts;
- Answering job offers through the technician employment service (SET);
- Expanding the search to other types of platform (e.g., television, film and commercial advertisements);
- Applying for all employment offers for image and sound technicians (for example, as a permanent employee).
It is important to keep all proof of your job search throughout the benefit period. This includes text messages and e-mails, as well as the date and identity of the employer, when communications are by phone.
During the period when you are receiving Employment Insurance benefits, you are also required to report any income earned. This requirement applies to both income earned as an employee and that earned as a self-employed worker. It is important to note that reporting income as a self-employed worker while you are receiving benefits does not disqualify you for benefits.
It is essential that your reports contain accurate information.
End of the benefit period
Once you land a contract, you have two options :
- Suspend payment of benefits using the Employment Insurance report. That way, the remaining benefits in the current claim will resume immediately once the contract is over.
- Terminate the Employment Insurance claim. This option should only be exercised if you intend to submit a new claim as soon as the new contract is finished.