Many people confuse the two terms but the answer is no. EI, which stands for Employment Insurance, is different from EIA. EIA stands for Employment and Income Assistance. While both programs provide financial help and assistance, they are designed differently and meet different needs and circumstances. While EI provides temporary income to workers who need to be on leave, are temporarily out of work or are upgrading their skills, EIA provides support to low-income individuals and families to help them meet basic needs.
EI provides temporary income support to unemployed workers while they look for employment or upgrade their skills. It also provides special benefits to workers who need to take time off due to:
- caring for a newborn or newly adopted child
- caring for a critically ill or injured person or
- caring for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death
You can receive EI if you lose your job and it’s not your fault. For example, there is a shortage of work, a seasonal or mass lay-off or you can’t find a job. For other eligibility requirements, go to EI Regular Benefits – Eligibility. It is important to note that EI is not a paid vacation. It is a benefit from the insurance you paid for together with your employer that allows you to have income in the duration that you can’t work or don’t have work. Also, you must have a worked a minimum required hours before you can be eligible for EI.
How much do you get?
For most people, the basic rate is 55% of their average earnings up to a maximum amount. As of January 2018, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $51,700. This translates to a maximum of $547 per week. The number of weeks of payments you will receive, meanwhile, depends on how long you worked and the unemployment rate in your region when you filed your claim.
Employment and Income Assistance (EIA)
EIA provides financial help to Manitobans who have no other way to support themselves or their families. You are eligible for EIA when the total cost of your or your family’s monthly basic needs and shelter costs are more than your total financial resources. Your financial resources are based on your income and assets. EIA has three categories:
EIA basically helps you to cover the cost of:
- food, clothing, personal and household needs
- basic dental, optical and prescription drugs
- health-related supplies not provided by other programs
- supports to help you find and start a job
- housing costs through Rent Assist (you can also apply for non-EIA Rent Assist)
Can you apply for EI or EIA if you lose your job?
Yes, but you must have a just cause for leaving or refusing a job. Check your eligibility for EI here before you apply: EI Regular Benefits: Eligibility. If you are eligible, you can easily apply online.
If you decide to apply for EIA, the Intake Officer will assess your reasons. They will talk to you and possibly your employer to make a final decision about your benefits. Read Reasons for Leaving or Refusing a Job to see examples of just cause for not working.
How to apply for EIA
All Manitobans can apply for EIA. Applicants must read the EIA Pre-Intake Orientation Presentation to know what it covers and the requirements they need to bring to an Intake Appointment. You can also download this Checklist to make sure you have all the documents needed. Your eligibility will be assessed at the Intake Appointment. They will conduct a Test of Need, which adds up your income assets and compares it to the total of your costs and expenses for basic needs. The amount of EIA, an applicant, receives is the difference between the needs that EIA will fund and their resources.
Can I receive both EIA and EI when I lose my job?
If you receive social assistance (EIA or any other financial assistance or advances from a Social Services agency) while waiting for your EI benefits to start, you may have to reimburse that money to a Social Services agency out of your EI benefits. (Read EI and Social Assistance for more details).
Article updated September 17, 2021.
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