The Employment Insurance (EI) program is a Federal program administered by the Government of Canada. In general, regular employment insurance benefits are provided to employees only (meaning those who work for an employer). The Special EI benefits may be provided to both employees and self employed people who join the program voluntarily.

There are general requirements to qualify for EI. An eligible applicant must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a person who has a valid temporary work permit to work legally in Canada. An applicant must also have accumulated sufficient insurable hours. Temporary foreign workers are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits during the duration of their work permit if they are unemployed and meet eligibility criteria, including having worked a sufficient number of hours.

There are different types of Employment Insurance benefits available, including regular insurance benefits for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and are actively looking for work, and special insurance benefits which include sickness, maternity, parental, and compassionate care benefits. There are also instances when EI benefits may be suspended or terminated. Individuals who are denied EI or have their EI suspended may appeal these decisions to the Board of Referees.

This link will provide more information on how to qualify for EI and details on the benefits and requirements, including sample EI calculations. This brochure contains important information on the EI application process, including information regarding appeals. This brochure contains only general legal information. The law can change, and each person’s situation is different. If you have any questions about your specific situation, please consult your local community legal clinic, community agency or a lawyer.UIBenefits1

By Topic List

Regular EI Benefits

Sickness, Maternity and Parental Benefits

Compassionate Care Benefits

The Application Process

The Appeal Process


General requirements:

  • An eligible applicant must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a person who has a valid temporary work permit to work legally in Canada.   Temporary foreign workers are eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits during the duration of their work permit if they are unemployed and meet eligibility criteria, including having worked a sufficient number of hours. 
  • An applicant must also have accumulated sufficient insurable hours.  Insurable hours mean the hours of work for which wages were paid where a portion of the wages were deducted to pay the EI premium.   

Types of Employment Insurance benefits:

There are several types of employment insurance benefits:

  • Regular employment insurance benefits are paid to people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and are actively looking for work
  • Special employment insurance benefits include:
    • Sickness benefits for people who are ill and cannot work
    • Maternity benefits for people who stop working to give birth
    • Parental benefits given to parents who have stopped working to care for their newborn or adopted children
    • Compassionate care benefits for people who are off work because they have to care for a gravely ill family member


 Regular EI benefits are for people who have just cause for becoming unemployed and who are ready, willing and capable of work each day but are unable to find work.

To apply for benefits, you must: 

  • Had insurable employment during which you paid employment insurance premiums while working;
  • Have just cause for being unemployed;
  • Have accumulated sufficient hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period.

Generally speaking, the hours of work from several jobs may be added up on a cumulative basis during the qualifying period. However, when applying for regular employment insurance benefits, you need to have “just cause” for losing each of these jobs  in order for the cumulative hours for those jobs to be counted. However, if you are applying for special employment insurance benefits such as sickness, pregnancy, parental or compassionate care benefits, the reason why you lost your job will not affect the calculation of cumulative hours or your eligibility for EI.

Insurable Hours Requirement for Regular EI benefits 

When you are applying for employment insurance benefits, you must have worked a sufficient number of insurable hours during the qualifying period.  The qualifying period is the shorter of:

  • the 52 week period immediately before the start date of your claim; or
  • if you have received EI during the most recent 52 week period, the qualifying period will be the start of the last EI claim to the present application date.

In some cases, the qualifying period may be extended to a maximum of 104 weeks if you were not employed due to illness, pregnancy, imprisonment or enrolment in a course approved by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and were not receiving EI benefit. You have to apply for an extension of the qualifying period and provide supporting documents.

How many insurable hours you need to qualify for regular EI benefits depends on whether you are a new entrant, re-entrant or whether your have had past EI violations.

New entrants or re-entrants need 910 insurable hours of employment to qualify for regular EI benefits. A new entrant and re-entrant to the labour force is someone who in the 52 weeks before the start of the qualifying period had fewer than 490 hours of insurable employment or attachment to the labour force which can include the receipt of EI benefits, employment earnings or benefits, workers’ compensation, sick pay, attendence at a training program approved by Service Canada, being on strike or lockout, calculated on the basis of 35 hours per week.

However, if you have received at least one week of pregnancy or parental benefits in the 208 weeks (4 years) preceding the qualifying period, you are only required to have accumulated 420 to 700 hours of insurable hours to qualify for regular EI benefits.

If you are not a new entrant or re-entrant, the number of insurable hours you are required to have ranges from 420 to 700 hours and is determined by your place of residence and its regional unemployment rate at the time of application. The following chart shows the number of hours required:

Regional Unemployment rate Required number of hours in the qualifying period
6 % or less 700 hours
6.1 %  to 7 % 665 hours
7.1 to  to 8 % 630 hours
8.1 %  to 9 % 595 hours
9.1 %  to 10 % 560 hours
10.1 %  to 11% 525 hours
11.1 %  to 12 % 490 hours
12.1 %  to 13 % 455 hours
13.1 %  or higher 420 hours

Past EI Violations

If you have a past record of EI violations , the number of insurable hours of work required will increase.  The maximum number is 1400 hours. The additional hours required will depend on the severity and number of violations as well as the unemployment rate at the time of application. Please refer to the section about violations and penalties for more details.

Just Cause for Becoming Unemployed

To qualify to receive regular EI benefits, your reason for becoming unemployed will affect your eligibility to received regular EI benefits as you need to show that you had just cause for losing your job. Unemployment due to shortage of work, bankruptcy or insolvency, for instance, is considered just cause. However, resigning from your job without just cause or being dismissed for misconduct may make you ineligible for regular EI benefits.

The reasons listed below could be considered just cause for leaving your job voluntarily:

  • quitting to start a new job
  • accompanying your spouse or dependent child to live in another city
  • your employer asks you to engage in illegal practices
  • being a victim of sexual or other harassment
  • being forced to work under conditions that are dangerous to your health and safety
  • being a victim of discrimination based on your race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical conditions, disability, etc. at your workplace
  • your employer owes you wages or refuses to pay you overtime pay or you are asked to work an excessive amount of overtime
  • you were given undue pressure by your employer or co-workers to resign
  • your wages have been greatly reduced, or your working conditions and position have changed significantly
  • you  were subjected to unreasonably harsh or unfair treatment from your supervisor
  • you cannot continue working or doing a similar type of work because of health reasons
  • you need to care for a child or a member of your immediate family (However, you cannot receive employment insurance benefits while taking care for your family member because you need to be able and willing to find work in order to be eligible for benefits).

Even though the above reasons are considered just cause for leaving your employment, you will not automatically be eligible for regular employment insurance benefits. You will still be required to prove that you took measures to resolve the problems and quitting was the last and only option. For example, if you could not continue to work because of health reasons, you must show that you provided your employer with a doctor’s note and asked for a job transfer. If the employer refused to make the necessary arrangements and you have no choice but to resign, you would have just cause for quitting and be eligible for regular EI benefit.   

If you became unemployed due to your personal negligence or misconduct, you are not eligible to receive employment insurance benefits. Examples of misconduct are :

  • Intentionally damaging company property
  • Lateness or being absent without permission
  • Becoming intoxicated during work hours
  • Not complying with supervisor’s instructions

If you were dismissed, but were not provided with a clear reason, or you think the dismissal was not for just cause, you should file a claim for EI benefits and provide your side of the story. If your application is turned down, you may seek legal advice and file an appeal.

If you lost your job due to your own fault or you voluntarily left your employment without just cause, the consequences are quite severe. You may be ineligible to get regular benefits and the hours of work you have accumulated from this job and from prior jobs will be deemed void for regular EI purposes. For example, you’ve accumulated the required hours of work by working at 3 separate jobs but if you were found not to have just cause for leaving any one of those jobs, all your accumulated hours before you quit your job with no just cause would become void. If there are problems at the workplace, you should seek legal advice before deciding to resign.

If you were dismissed or voluntarily resigned from your job, you have to explain the reason for your dismissal or resignation.  This information will be used by the EI Office to investigate and to decide your eligibility.

If you resigned voluntarily, you must explain:

  •  the reason for your resignation
  •  what measures you took to resolve the problems prior to resigning
  • whether you searched for other jobs before resigning

If you were dismissed, you must explain:

  • the reason for your dismissal
  • whether the employer provided you with a warning beforehand
  • how you attempted to improve the situation

After you submit this information, Service Canada may contact you to conduct a telephone or in-person interview. They may also contact your employer to inquire about the situation and then decide whether there was just cause for your resignation or whether the dismissal was due to your wrongdoing.  If your application is refused, you will receive a notification letter explaining the reason for the refusal. You may appeal this decision within 30 days of receiving the decision letter to the Board of Referees. This deadline is very important. You may seek help from a community agency or your local community legal clinic with the appeal.

If your application for regular EI benefits is refused based on reasons relating to losing your job, you may still use your accumulated insurable hours to apply for special employment insurance benefits including sickness, maternity, parental or compassionate care benefits. Your reason for unemployment will not affect your eligibility to apply for special employment insurance benefits.

Application Deadlines

You must apply for regular EI benefits within 4 weeks after you stop working; if you delay applying for benefits beyond the four weeks, you risk losing benefits you are entitled to. If you have not been paid wages or had any earnings for a period of 7 consecutive days, you may also apply.

Re-activating an Old Claim 

If you were receiving regular EI benefits in the past 52 weeks but returned to work before the claim ran out, you may reactivate the claim and receive the remaining weeks left on the claim if you have become unemployed at your present job for just cause. You may file a new claim in the future if you have accumulated a sufficient number of insurable work hours.

To reactivate your old claim, you should visit Service Canada Web site at Click on “Apply for Employment Insurance Benefits” in the menu on the right-hand side of the home page. On the page “Application for Employment Insurance Benefits online,” you will be asked if you wish to reactivate an existing claim or start a new claim. If you indicate that you wish to reactivate an existing claim, you will be presented with a shorter version of the application so that you can then proceed to reactivate your old claim.

Benefit Period

The benefit period is the period within which you receive EI benefits. The length of the benefit period is usually 52 weeks from the start of the claim.  How many weeks of regular EI benefits you receive during the benefit period can range from 14 to 45 weeks and depends on the number of hours you worked during the qualifying period and the regional unemployment rate for your area. Usually, you will get EI benefits for a longer period of time if the regional employment rate for the area where the application is submitted is high and you earned a higher number of insurable hours.  Your benefit period will be shown on the first EI report you receive.

Suspension or Termination of Benefits

During the benefit period, your regular employment insurance benefits may be suspended for a period of 1 to 6 weeks if:

    •  you did not follow reasonable directions given by employment insurance benefits staff
    • you did not attend interviews requested by the employment insurance benefits office
    • you refused to attend or participate in, forfeited without reason, or were expelled from training courses or employment opportunities arranged by the employment insurance office.

Under the following situations, your benefits may be suspended for 7 to 12 weeks:

  • you refused to accept a suitable job; or
  • you were aware of a suitable employment opportunity but do not apply for it.

There is rule to say that you must accept a “suitable” job. With the recently announced changes, several factors will be used to determine what constitutes suitable employment, including personal circumstances, working conditions, hours of work, commuting time, type of work and wages.

By applying these criteria, EI claimants will be placed into one of three categories: long tenured workers, frequent claimants and occasional claimants.

Long tenured workers include claimants who have paid EI premium for the past 7 to 10 years, and over the last 5 years have received 35 or fewer weeks of EI regular/fishing benefits. Claimants in this category have up to 18 weeks to search for a position within their usual occupation and salary, starting at 90% of previous hourly wage. After 18 weeks, claimant in this category is required to expand their job search to include similar work at 80% of their previous hourly wage.

Frequent claimants include claimants who had three or more EI/ and or fishing claims and received over 60 weeks of regular EI and/or fishing benefits within the past 5 years. Claimants in this category have up to 6 weeks to search for and accept jobs similar to those they normally perform at 80% of their previous hourly wage. After 7 weeks of accepting benefits, they would be required to accept any work they are qualified(able to perform, with(on-the job training if required) any required training and to accept wages starting at 70% of their previous hourly wage.

Occasional claimants are any claimants not captured in the two groups mentioned above. These claimants would be allowed to limit their job search to their usual occupation and wage (at least 90% of their previous hourly wage) for the first 6 weeks of their claim. After the 7th week, they would be required to search for and accept jobs that are similar to the job that they normally perform with wages at 80% of previous earnings. After 18 weeks, they would be required to further expand their job search to include any work that they are qualified(able) to perform(with on-the-job if required (with necessary trainings), at wages starting at 70% of their previous earnings, but not lower than the prevailing minimum wage.

Under the proposed changes, EI benefits recipients will be required to look for a job every day they receive benefits. The required job search activities include researching job prospects and searching for job vacancies, preparing job applications, applying for positions, attending interviews and other efforts to improve employability (e.g. workshops, job fairs, networking events etc.)  EI benefits recipients are also required to keep a record of their job search activities and submit such evidence upon request.

If your EI benefits are suspended because you refused to accept or apply for a “suitable” job, you have the right to appeal.

If you accept a new part-time or full-time job while receiving regular employment insurance benefits and you have no just cause for resigning from this job or are dismissed from this job due to misconduct, you will be ineligible to receive the remainder of your EI benefits. The decision to suspend your benefits must be fully enforced before you may continue to receive the remainder of your benefits. If your claim meets any of the following 3 requirements, the suspension decision will be enforced the next time you apply for EI benefits:

  1. Your benefit period ended before the suspension could be fully enforced
  2. The suspension decision was made not more than 2 years ago
  3. You have not worked for more than 700 hours from the date of your last claim to the present claim

Under the following situations, your regular employment insurance benefits may be terminated unless you can prove that the problem has been resolved. The situations may be:

  • Service Canada has reason to believe that you are not ready to accept work at any time or are not seeking work
  • You did not respond to your employer’s recall request after being temporarily laid-off
  • You became unemployed because of a strike or lock-out
  • You did not provide information requested by Service Canada
  • You left Canada during the benefit period. You cannot continue receiving EI benefits until you return to Canada.
  • You attended full-time classes (including English classes) or training courses without the approval of Service Canada in contravention of the conditions of seeking work and being ready to work at any time.

It is important to note that a decision to suspend or terminate regular EI benefits will not affect your eligibility for special employment insurance benefits. You may not qualify for regular employment insurance benefits but may still be entitled to special benefits including sickness, pregnancy, parental and compassionate care benefits. For example, if your regular EI benefits are suspended but you are entitled to receive sickness, pregnancy, parental or compassionate care benefits, you will continue to receive these special EI benefits while the decision about your regular EI benefits is put on hold and will be enforced the next time you apply for regular EI benefits.

After it has been decided that you no longer qualify for EI benefits or that your EI benefits will be terminated, you will receive a written notice. You may submit new information and request an appeal within 30 days of receiving the written notice. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Violations and Penalties

If you provide any false or misleading information during the benefit period, it will be considered a violation against EI provisions and you will be penalized.

The following are considered EI violations:

  •  making false declarations or misrepresentation
  •  providing inaccurate or misleading information
  •  neglecting to report actual income earned during the benefit period
  •  failing to repay benefits to which you were not entitled
  • using false document to deceive Service Canada and its staff
  • failing to report absences from Canada (you cannot receive EI benefits while outside of Canada except in some exceptional situations)

The penalty for these violations is severe. You may be ordered to pay back the benefits you received and be penalized for up to 3 times the EI benefits you received. There will be interest charged on the overpayment debt as a result of making false or misleading information. The rate of interest is the Bank of Canada’s average rate plus 3 percent calculated daily and compounded monthly. As well, you may be required to accumulate more work hours to qualify for EI benefits for your next application. In more serious cases, you may face criminal prosecution. Investigations of EI benefit claims may go back as far as 6 years.

Penalties for violations are enforced for a period of 5 years. Violations are categorized as follows:

  • 1st violation: carries a penalty of $1000 or less
  • Serious violation: carries a penalty of $1000 to $4999
  • Very serious violation: carries a penalty of $5000 or more

If you commit another violation, you may be required to accumulate up to 1400 hours of insurable employment to qualify for regular EI benefits if you apply in the next 5 years. However, it will not affect your eligibility to apply for special employment insurance benefits.

The following chart shows the extra hours required for different types of violations:

Regional Unemployment Rate Normal Hours of Work Required 1st violation Severe violation Very severe violation 2 or more violations
6 % or lower 700 hours 875 hours


1050 hours


1225 hours


1400 hours


6.1 %  to 7 %


665 hours


831 hours


998 hours


1164 hours


1330 hours


7.1 %  to  8 %


630 hours


788 hours 945 hours


1103 hours


1260 hours


8.1 %  to  9 % 595 hours


744 hours


893 hours


1041 hours


1190 hours


9.1 %  to 10 % 560 hours


700 hours


840 hours


980 hours 1120 hours


10.1 %  to 11% 525 hours


656 hours


788 hours


919 hours 1050 hours


11.1 %  to 12 % 490 hours


613 hours


735 hours


  858 hours


980 hours
12.1 %  to 13 % 455 hours


569 hours


683 hours


  796 hours


  910 hours


13.1 % or higher 420 hours


525 hours


630 hours  735 hours   840 hours


Other Important Issues :

While receiving EI benefits, you must:

  •  be actively searching for employment
  •  be willing to work and at any time
  •  report if you leave Canada
  • submit EI reports on time during the reporting period
  •  report income received during the reporting period
  •  accept employment opportunities recommended by Service Canada
  •  attend all interviews requested by Service Canada
  • participate in training courses that Service Canada finds suitable for you
  •  provide information on childcare arrangements on request

If your circumstances change during the regular EI benefit period which make you eligible for special employment insurance benefits, you must notify Service Canada and apply for a transfer of benefits.

Completing Your Report

To receive your EI payments, you must complete and submit a report that usually covers 2 calendar weeks, from Sunday to Saturday even if there is no change to your information. However, if you claim maternity, parental or compassionate care benefits, you don’t have to complete this report.

You can file a report online, by telephone or complete and mail a paper report. Shortly after applying for EI benefits, you will receive by mail your access code. Your access code and your Social Insurance Number (SIN) are required in order to obtain specific information about your EI claim.

It is important to complete and return your report as soon as it is due to ensure prompt payment of benefits. If you do not return your report within 3 weeks of receipt, your report may not be processed. You must report any absences fromCanada, any training you are attending and all earnings in the weeks covered by the report.

You must answer all the questions accurately. Remember that giving false information is fraud and is punishable by law. If you find that you made a mistake after you have completed a report, you can report this error by phone at 1 800 206-7218 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or by mail by providing as much detail as possible, or in person at your local Service Canada Centre.


 There are 4 types of special EI benefits: 

Sickness Benefits are for people who have stopped working due to illness, quarantine or injury. It does not matter if the illness or injury is work-related or not; it will not affect your eligibility. However, if you are an employee and the illness or injury was caused by your work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Please contact the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board at 416-344-2100.

You must provide a doctor’s certificate to prove your illness or injury. The duration of the benefit period will depend on the expected recovery date certified by the doctor. You are entitled to a maximum of 15 weeks of sickness benefits. You should apply as soon as you stop working to prevent any loss of benefits.

Maternity Benefits are for females who stop working to give birth.  Applicants can receive up to a maximum of 15 weeks of benefits.

You can apply as early as 8 weeks before the due date until the date the child is born.  You can decide when to stop working and apply for benefit during this period.

Parental Benefits are for any parents (father or mother) who have stopped working to take care of their newborn children or adopted children. Either parent can receive the maximum number of weeks of benefits or they can share the benefits between them in the same benefit period up to a maximum of 35 weeks.

When applying for maternity benefits, the mother will be asked which parent is to receive parental benefits and how the two parents plan on dividing the weeks of benefits.  If the mother decides to receive both maternity and parental benefits, she does not need to file a separate claim for parental benefits. She will automatically continue to receive parental benefits once the maternity benefits end. However, if the child’s father wants to share part of the parental benefits and he has accumulated sufficient hours of insurable employment, he will be required to file a claim for parental benefits with his Record of Employment. The rate of his benefits will be based on his own earnings.

Parental benefits can be applied at any time after the baby is born or after the adopted child comes into the parents’ care. However, the total 35 weeks of benefits must be received before the child turns 1 year (52 weeks) old. If the child needs to remain hospitalized, the parental benefits can be taken within 104 weeks of the child’s birth. 

Compassionate Care Benefits are for people who must be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is seriously ill and who faces a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

“Family member” refers to your same-sex or opposite-sex spouse/common-law partner (someone who has lived with you for at least one year), parent or spouse’s parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, aunt or uncle, grandchild, step-grandchild, son or daughter-in-law, niece or nephew, or any other person you consider to be a close relative.

The benefit period may last for a maximum of 6 weeks. The benefit period ends when:

  • 6 weeks of benefits have been paid to the applicant or
  • the gravely ill family member dies and no longer requires care; or
  • the 26 week period has passed from the date of the doctor’s certificate.

If the family member who is receiving care dies during the benefit period, the claimant has the responsibility to report the death to avoid overpayment of benefits.

You are eligible for compassionate care benefits even if the ill family member is living in another country. Claimants can share these benefits with other family members for up to a maximum of 6 weeks if the other family members fulfill the eligibility requirements and make an application. Each claimant must provide their own Record of Employment and a doctor’s certificate. The doctor’s certificate may be shared by family members. 

Eligibility Requirements

 There are two requirements for Special EI benefits:

  1. If you are an employee, you must have accumulated at least 600 hours of work in the qualifying period which is the 52 week period before the application date or the start of your last EI claim to the present, whichever is shorter). You may add the hours worked at numerous jobs for a cumulative total. The reasons for your unemployment will not affect your eligibility to receive special employment insurance benefits.
  2. if you are self employed person who joins the program voluntarily, you have to wait 12 months after the day you join the program to become eligible.

Benefit rate: 

The calculation of the amount you can receive for any type of EI benefit is based on the same formula. There are two types of amounts:

  • In most cases, EI benefits are 55% of your average weekly earnings up to the maximum weekly benefit.  The maximum weekly benefit for 2013 is $501
  • If you meet the following requirements, you are automatically entitled to receive the family supplement:
    • You have dependent children; and
    • Your annual family income is less than $25,921; and
    • You receive the Child Tax Benefit

The amount of family supplement you can receive depends on the number of children in the family and their ages. The supplement will be calculated automatically.   If both parents are applying for employment insurance benefits, only one parent can receive the family supplement.

The benefit amount will be determined by the information provided in the claim and will not be altered during the benefit period. 

Calculation of Average Weekly Earnings 

To calculate your average weekly insurable earnings, your total gross earnings in the last 26 weeks is divided by the greater of :

  •  the number of weeks you worked in the last 26 continuous weeks; or
  • The minimum divisor number

The following is a statutory chart that shows the minimum divisor that applies to each unemployment rate:

Regional Unemployment Rate Divisor
6 % or lower 22
6.1 %  to  7 % 21
7.1 %  to  8 % 20
8.1 %  to 9 % 19
9.1 %  to 10 % 18
10.1 %  to 11% 17
11.1 %  to 12 % 16
12.1 %  to 13 % 15
13.1 % or higher 14

Calculation Example

  • You worked 12 weeks in the past 26 weeks and earned $3600 in wages.
  • The regional unemployment rate is 13.1%, therefore the divisor is 14. Your average weekly would be $3600÷14=$257 (the minimum divisor is used here,  since EI is required to use whichever number is greater between the  minimum divisor and number of weeks worked).
  • As the rate for calculating  benefits is 55% of average weekly earnings, your weekly EI benefits would be $141 (55% of $257

Declaring Your Earnings while on Employment Insurance (EI)

After you stop working, any employment related income that you receive including wages, bonuses, termination pay, severance pay, annual vacation pay, rewards, pension payments will be deducted from your benefits before you start receiving those benefits. In addition, you must report any wages earned while you are on EI.

If you need further information on the types of earnings which may affect your EI, you can go to the Service Canada website which has an EI earnings chart and access this chart by searching “EI earnings chart”. The earnings chart shows you which earnings are taken in consideration and, if so, how it is allocated. 

Earnings / Working while on EI

If you work while receiving sickness or maternity benefits, all of the income earned from your work will be deducted from the benefits. However, if you work while receiving regular EI benefits, parental or compassionate care benefits, only part of it will be deducted from your benefits. The allowable earning amount without deduction is $50 per week up to 25% of your weekly benefit, whichever is higher. If your earnings are within this range, they will not be deducted from your benefits. Any amount exceeding this limit will be deducted in full. You must report any earning. If you fail to report income earned and this omission is discovered by the EI office,  you will lose this deductible earning amount and may be asked to repay any overpayment of benefits and/or face penalties.

Combined Benefit Periods:

If you are receiving several kinds of employment insurance benefits in one claim, the duration of the benefit period depends on the order in which you are receiving the benefits. The lengths of the benefit period for combinations of different EI benefits are as follows:

  • If you are receiving regular EI benefits along with any category of special benefits, the benefit period may last up to a combined maximum of 50 weeks.
  • If you not receiving regular EI benefits but several kinds of special EI benefits, the benefit period could last up to a combined maximum of 71 weeks depending on the order in which you receive the benefits.

The Application Process     

After you have stopped working, your employer must issue a ROE (Record of Employment) to you within 5 days.  After receiving this record, you may use it to apply for employment insurance benefits. If you have been temporarily laid off for 7 consecutive days or more, you may ask your employer to provide the Record of Employment to you so that you can apply for employment insurance benefits. If your employer refuses to provide the ROE, you should still apply for employment insurance benefits and file a complaint with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada at the same time.  They will order your employer to provide you with the ROE. You should apply for EI benefits within 4 weeks after you stop working, otherwise you risk losing some of the benefits you are entitled to. Even if you have not received your Record of Employment, you  should  apply and submit the ROE when you receive it at a later date.

You should have the following documents ready when filing a claim:

  • your SIN number (If the initial number is 9, you are required to provide the work permit issued to you by Canada Immigration )
  • your mother’s maiden name;
  • your full mailing and residential address
  • bank information to complete direct deposit information
  • names, addresses, dates of employment and reason for unemployment for all of your jobs over the last 52 weeks (according to your ROEs)
  • a detailed version of the facts, reasons and situations causing your unemployment if you quit or have been dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks.
  • dates (Sunday to Saturday) of any weeks in the last 52 weeks when you did not work or receive any earnings, and the reason(s) why and dates when your gross weekly earnings were less than $225

You have to file a claim on-line.  You can apply online at any Services Canada Centre using the internet kiosks.  The web address is:

After you have completed the application online, you will receive an application reference number and an address to which you must send the paper copy of your Record of Employment. If your employer has the employment record online, you may send this information via the internet.

Records of Employment (ROEs)

The ROE is the form that your employer must complete when you stop working and experience an interruption of earnings. Your employer must issue it even if you do not intend to claim EI. On your ROE, you will find information about your employment history including insurable hours, wages, reason for unemployment and vacation pay or money received after termination of employment.

  • If your employer issues ROEs in paper format, you must request copies of all ROEs issued to you during the last 52 weeks and provide them to Service Canada as soon as possible after you submit your EI application. You must either mail in your paper ROEs or drop them off in person at a Service Canada Centre.
  • If your employer submits ROEs electronically to Service Canada, you do not need to request copies of your ROEs from your employer, and you do not have to provide copies to Service Canada.


Before applying for EI benefits, you should confirm with your employer whether or not your ROE will be issued electronically to Service Canada. Missing ROEs can delay the processing of your claim. However, you do not have to wait for your ROE to apply. You should apply right away in order to avoid losing benefits due to a late application. You can submit the ROE at a later date.

Waiting Period

Regardless of which category of employment insurance benefits you apply for, every new claim carries a two-week waiting period that must be served at the beginning of the benefit period. You will not be paid any benefits during these two weeks; the benefits will be paid after this waiting period. The waiting period can be waived if:

  • You are receiving both maternity and parental benefits at the same time, in which case you only need to serve one waiting period.
  • you were aware of a suitable employment opportunity but do not apply for it.

The amount of your EI benefit entitlement is usually calculated from the Sunday of the week you file your claim, not from the day that you stop working. Once you have served the two-week waiting period, and any income you earned after you have stopped working (including annual vacation pay, termination pay ) has been deducted from your benefits, your benefits will be issued to you. You must submit EI reports every two weeks either online or by telephone. If you do not report, the benefit payments will stop. You must be honest in your reporting; reporting false information can lead to severe penalties. If you require assistance in filling out an EI report, please contact a local community agency.

Even if you have received notification to report, this does not mean your claim has been approved. Once your claim has been approved, you will receive notification regarding your benefit amount, benefit period and when it will start to be paid out. If your claim has been rejected, you will receive written notification with an explanation for the decision. You may file an appeal within 30 days of receiving the decision. 

The Appeal Process

If you receive a letter of rejection from Service Canada but do not understand the reason for the decision, you should contact Service Canada as soon as possible. If you have any information that may change the decision, you should submit the information as soon as possible and request a review of your claim. If the problem remains unsolved after the review, you may file an appeal.

If you decide to appeal, you must do so within 30 days of receiving notice of the decision. Your notice of appeal should contain your name, address, social insurance number, and the reasons why you are filing an appeal. You should then submit the notice of appeal to the Board of Referees of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The Board of Referees are appointed impartial decision makers who are not employees of Service Canada.

You will receive notification of the hearing time, date, and place from the Board of Referees along with a copy of your case records which includes the decision, reasons for the rejection and any evidence used. Attending this hearing is very important. In front of a 3-member Board of Referees, you may explain your problem and provide evidence as well as bring any witnesses who may support your case. You may bring an interpreter or representative with you to the hearing. After the hearing, you will receive a written  decision from the Board of Referees. If your appeal is dismissed, you may appeal to the Umpire.

Appeal file before April 1, 2013:

The EI board of Referees will continue to hear appeals file before April 3, 2013; these decisions must be issued no later than October 31, 2013.  Any appeal to the EI Umpires that have not been heard by April 1, 2013 will be transferred to the Social Security Tribunal (SST).

Appeal file after April 1, 2013:

Ei appeal must be submitted to the SST, the SST will have 2 divisions dealing with 2 levels of appeal:

  • The General Division will have an EI section for EI appeals
  • The Appeal division will decide appeals of decisions made by the General Division

Service Canada locations in Toronto

Toronto Etobicoke Service Canada Centre

5343 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9B 6K6

Toronto – Willowdale Service Canada Centre

4900 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6B1

Toronto – City Hall – Service Canada Centre

City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, First Floor, Toronto, ON

Toronto Centre Service Canada Centre

25 St Clair Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 3A4

Toronto East –  Gerrard Square – Service Canada Centre

Gerrard Square Mall, 2rd Floor, Unit DD10/11,1000 Gerrard St East
Toronto  College Service Canada Centre

559 College Street , Suite 100, Toronto, Ontario
Toronto Lawrence Square Service Canada Centre

Lawrence Square, Suite 103-105, 700 Lawrence Avenue West

Toronto – Malvern – Service Canada Centre

Malvern Town Centre Mall, 31 Tapscott Road

Toronto – West Humber – Service Canada Centre
2291 Kipling Avenue, Unit 114, Toronto, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario Toronto Scarborough Service Canada Centre

200 Town Centre Court, Scarborough, Ontario, M1P 4X9

You may also go to the Service Canada website and enter your postal code to find the nearest Service Canada Centre:

Where to get help?

For legal advice and representation, you can contact a lawyer or a community legal clinic.  To find the community legal clinic in your area, you can phone Legal Aid Ontario, their toll free outside Toronto number is 1-800-668-8258, in Toronto, call 416-979-1446 or check their web site at

This booklet provides general information only. Each person’s situation is different and the law can change. If you have any legal issues, please contact a lawyer or local community legal clinic.


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