Thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies try to recover their losses, several people are still jobless.
Canada’s employment insurance or EI program provides temporary income support to workers while they look to upgrade skills or look for employment. The EI program provides benefits to employees taking a break from work due to life events that include pregnancy, illness, caring for a newborn or a newly adopted child, and even caring for a family member who is ill with a major risk of death.
Here, you are eligible to receive EI benefits if you have paid premiums in the previous year and meet certain qualifying and entitlement conditions. The employment insurance program is open to self-employed workers as well.
The silver lining to this grey cloud is that you can apply for Employment Insurance (EI). The EI programs give temporary financial relief to unemployed Canadians as they look for jobs or are in the process of upgrading their skills.
Employment insurance eligibility
First, the EI provides relief to workers who:
- Can’t work due to sickness or pregnancy
- Take a leave of absence to take care of a newborn or a newly adopted child
- Are critically ill/injured
- Have to take care of a family member who is critically ill with a significant risk of death.
Also, you may apply for EI if you:
- Were employed in insurable employment
- Lost your job in unavoidable circumstances like Covid-19, floods, and fire
- Have not had a job or salary for 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
- In the previous 52 weeks, you have worked for the minimum number of insurable hours or have done so since you filed your EI claim; whichever is shorter
- Are capable of working every day
- Have a record that shows you’re actively looking for work
COVID-19 changes to Employment Insurance
The above criteria have undergone a few changes due to the current global pandemic. However, the changes will be in effect until September 2021
- You may not have to wait for EI once you file your claim
- You only need 120 insured hours to qualify (previously, you needed 400-700 hours depending on your industry). If you have worked in the two weeks before filling your claim, indicate the amount you ought to receive before taxes (whether or not you have the salary)
- You will receive $500 or more per week before taxes
- You can get your benefits for up to 50 weeks
- If you qualify for CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit), the time to accumulate the insurable hours is extended beyond 52 weeks.
- A 13% or more unemployment rate in your region.
You need to file a report every two weeks via telephone or online (online is easier)
What do I need to fill EI report online?
- Your SIN (social insurance number). If it starts with a 9, you will provide proof of immigration status and work permit.
- One of your parents’ last name (at the time of birth)
- Your full residential address, plus the postal code
- Your banking credentials (bank name, branch number, account number)
- Name and address of your employers in the last 52 weeks (don’t worry if you were working for a relative. It’s allowed). Dates of employment and an account of why you separated from your employer.
- If you quit or got fired within the 52 weeks, you will provide a personal account of the events that led to that.
- Your salary, before tax, for the last week you worked, including insurable tips and commissions.
- Extra allowances you may receive or already received. E.g., vacation pay, severance, pension, in lieu of notice, and other money from your employer.
- If you select direct deposit, you will get your benefits in your account in 2 business days.
EI reporting: how to fill your EI report online
Step 1: Log in to the EI portal
Do you have a My Service Canada Account? If so, go straight to log in. If not, kindly create the account. You will provide your SIN, province of residence, and access code. Then log in
Where to get access code for my EI
- The access code is a number used by Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and Old Age Security to safeguard and validate your account at My Service Canada.
- The employment insurance access code has 4 digits, and it is sent to you via mail when you apply for the EI benefits.
Step 2: Acceptance statement
Once you log in, you will go to a page that gives you the crucial information about the report you want to fill. Go through the data, check out the dates and frequency of filing and then click the ‘I accept button.’ The button is below the acceptance statement.
Step 3: Postage information
After you click the ‘I accept’ button; you will go to the postage and direct deposit page. Remember, selecting direct deposit is the best option because you will have the money in 2 business days. If you click yes, you will get a tab where you will key in your new address.
Step 4: Leaving the country
If you left the country during the time you want to benefit from, the government won’t pay for the days you were away. However, you stand to face criminal charges if you lie. So fill in the correct details about where you were. Then click ‘continue.’
Step 5: Work and wages page
On this page, you will get two questions:
- Are you self-employed?
- Did you work or receive any earnings during the period of this report? This includes work for which you will receive payment later, unpaid work, self-employment, including farming.
Self-employment affects the benefits you ought to receive provided you give proof of the work you did. Fill in your salary and wages in full before tax.
Step 6: School and training
On page six, you will fill in the details of your schooling or training during the period you’re reporting. Remember, you qualify for EI if you could not go to work due to school or training workshops.
Step 7: Were you available for work?
Click ‘Yes’ to assure the government that you were willing and able to work during the time of the report. This shows that it’s not your fault you were/are unemployed.
Final step: Other money
Kindly be honest with the government on any other cash you received in the period of reporting, like workers’ compensation or group wage insurance.
After you answer this question, you will have a chance to go through all the answers you have given before clicking ‘I accept’ to confirm that everything you have written is correct. Then once you accept, you’ll receive an email confirming your report and the date of your next reporting.
Can I be exempted from EI reporting?
Yes, you can if:
- You’re in an apprenticeship program
- You’re part of a work-sharing agreement
- You’re getting maternity, parental, or caregiving benefits.
Nevertheless, indicate that you want an exemption through a phone call or when submitting your application online.
What is the link to apply for EI
You can use the same link mentioned above to file the EI report online.
How many Canadians applied for EI in December 2021?
The unemployment rates in Canada surged amid the ongoing pandemic. While the macro-economic situation has improved, around 636,000 still received employment insurance benefits in the month of December 2021 which was a decline of 8% compared to the previous month.
The 2019 Canadian financial capability survey indicates that one in six Canadians spends more than they make, which shows that EI will be beneficial for a lot of people.
What details are required to fill your EI form?
If you receive EI benefits, you have to complete a report every two weeks to show you are eligible to receive these payouts. So, for each report the applicant needs to:
- Include dates and hours worked as well as earnings before any deductions
- Provide contact details of employers
- Mention hours spent at school or during a training course
- Indicate if you are available for work
How should you submit EI reports online?
Service Canada will mail you a benefit statement when you apply for benefits such as the EI. This statement also provides you with a 4-digit access code which will be required along with your social insurance number to submit these reports.
You can submit reports using the Internet Reporting Service as well as the Telephone Reporting Service. Further, the EI reporting calendar will help users track their hours and earnings.