All about employment insurance

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If you lose your job, the government provides temporary financial assistance while you look for work or upgrade your skills. This is called employment insurance (EI). First off, you must be legally entitled to work in Canada, have a valid Social Insurance number, and remain in Canada during the benefit period. You may be entitled to receive regular EI benefits if you:

  • are employed in insurable employment;
  • lost your employment through no fault of your own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • are ready, willing, and capable of working each day; and
  • are actively looking for work.

If you voluntarily left your work, were dismissed for a cause, or are unemployed because you are participating in a dispute, you may not be eligible. To know more about regular EI benefits, go to this link.

There are five other types of EI:

EI Maternity and Parental Benefits – for those who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child, or are caring for a newborn.

Changes to EI maternity and parental benefits, Employment and Social Development Canada.

EI Sickness Benefits – for the sick, injured or quarantined.
EI Compassionate Care Benefits – for those who need to be away from work temporarily to take care of a family member who is critically ill.
EI Benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children – for parents who have to take leave from work to care for a critically ill or injured child.
EI Fishing Benefits – for qualifying, self-employed fishers who are actively seeking work.

Are you elf-employed? You can receive special EI benefits by entering into an agreement, or registering, with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. Learn more about special EI benefits for self-employed people.

To apply for EI, you have to submit an application online. This can be done at home, through public internet access (e.g. a library) or at any Service Canada Centre.

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Community Resources

More information about Employment Insurance benefits and leave may be found from the Employment and Social Development Canada page.

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