We’ll continue updating this page with resources and information as new details emerge on how Canadian leaders and businesses are responding to COVID-19.
Involuntary unemployment happens when you lose your job because of an economic downturn, the end of seasonal work, your company downsizing, your job being made redundant or other reasons for which you’re not at fault. It does not include resigning from your job, selling your business or being let go for poor performance or violating company policies.
If you lose your job or have shifts cut as a result of the coronavirus, you may qualify for EI depending on how many insurable hours you’ve worked over the past 12 months.
Insurable hours are hours for which you were paid as reported by your employer your a Record of Employment (ROE), which is submitted to the government. Because you took part of your earnings from those hours and put it into the EI program, your income from those hours helps determine what your EI payout will be.
The minimum number of insurable hours you have to work to be eligible for EI is based on the unemployment rate where you live. For example, as of March 24, 2020, if the unemployment rate in your region is 6% or less, you have to work at least 700 insurable hours to be eligible for EI. But if the unemployment rate is between 9.1% and 10%, you have to work at least 560 hours.
The maximum amount of EI you can get is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2020, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $54,200 (or $573 per week).
Recipients are required to file a report to the government every so often to confirm that they are looking for work and not simply using their benefits to take time off. (This reporting requirement may be waived depending on the type of benefit you’re receiving. For instance, you’re not expected to be looking for work while on sickness benefits, so you don’t have to file a report.) To learn more about EI or to apply, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada website.
Yes, if they’ve worked enough insurable hours to be eligible. But the government needs to have ROEs as proof of hours worked, so workers need to be sure their employers have submitted this. Employers are not required to submit an ROE every time a small job is done, but they do when:
an employee requests an ROE and an interruption of earnings has occurred
an employee is no longer on the employer’s active employment list
Service Canada requests an ROE
an employee has not done any work or earned any insurable earnings for 30 days
You may be eligible for EI regular benefits if you:
were employed in insurable employment
lost your job through no fault of your own
have been without work pay for at least 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
have worked at least a certain minimum number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter
are ready, willing and capable of working each day (otherwise, you may need sickness, disability or maternity benefits)
are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them)
You may not qualify for EI if any of the following reasons apply:
You haven’t worked enough insurable hours
You voluntarily left your job without just cause
You were dismissed for misconduct
You’re unemployed because you’re directly participating in a labour dispute (for example, a strike, lockout or other type of conflict)
You’re off work as per an agreement made with your employer to make up for working extra (which is above normal, full-time hours).
Typically, a small portion of your paycheque is deducted by your employer and sent to the government to be paid into the EI program. The amount charged is stated as a fee for every $100 you make. This fee changes yearly and can be found online on the CRA website.
For the 2020 tax year, the amount is $1.58 per $100 that you earn. So, if your paycheque is $2,500, your deduction will be:
($2,500÷100) X $1.58 = $39.50
You should see the amount deducted on your pay stub. Self employed people remit their own income taxes, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and EI payments. But the amount charged is still the same.
Yes, but it could affect your earnings. According to Employment and Social Development Canada, you can keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn up to 90% of your previous weekly earnings. After that, your EI benefits are reduced dollar for dollar.
To work while receiving benefits, simply declare the income you’re making when you file your report with the government.
Yes. But the sum total of weeks you can receive regular EI benefits for unemployment as well as other EI benefits cannot exceed 50 weeks in the same benefit period of 52 weeks. An exception to this is when regular benefits are combined with parental benefits to allow parents of newborns to have extended time off with their infants.
To work while receiving benefits, simply declare the income you’re making when you report to the government as required under the program.
Employment information for the past 52 weeks:
Names and addresses of your employers
When you were employment
The reason for separation and your detailed explanation of the facts
Earnings for your highest paid weeks of employment over the past 52 weeks
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Mother’s maiden name
Mailing and residential address including the postal code
Banking information including institution number, branch number and account number
Extra help for EI applicants with coronavirus
The government is prioritizing processing EI applications for people with coronavirus. If you become infected with coronavirus and get quarantined, the usual 1-week waiting period on receiving your first EI payment will be waived. Essentially, this means you don’t have to pay a deductible and will receive an extra week’s worth of EI benefits.
Besides government-issued insurance, you can also look into coverage offered by private insurance providers. These policies usually allow you to receive a payout on top of what you’re already getting from the government. So, it’s great if you want to increase your EI coverage.
If you’re self-employed, you can choose not to join the EI program simply by not paying into it. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find private insurance that offers the same coverage for a comparable price. The trade-off for relying solely on EI is that, once you cash in on the maximum amount of EI for which you’re eligible, you have to work and build up insurable hours again before you can receive another payout. Private coverage tends to be less restrictive in its payout policies.
What type of private insurance can I get for unemployment?
Private insurers in Canada break down the components of the EI program into separate policies, so you’ll have to pay multiple premiums to get a full suite of unemployment insurance. But if you decide you only need some, and not all, types of coverage, you can save on premiums. Here are some of the more common types of unemployment-related insurance that private companies offer:
Critical illness insurance.
Covers you if you can’t work due to a severe illness like cancer, heart attack and stroke. Providers vary in what medical conditions they cover and even in how those medical conditions are defined. Theoretically, if your doctor declares that you had a heart attack, but your symptoms and condition don’t fully line up with the definition of a heart attack as stated in your policy, then you could be denied coverage. Insurance companies do this to make sure payouts are for legitimate reasons. Policy details are usually decided in consultation with experienced medical professionals.
Disability insurance (which may also cover sickness).
Covers you if you can’t work due to sickness or disability, both visible and non-visible. You may be able to get coverage to supplement the loss of your regular income or even your retirement income, depending on the insurance provider.
Provides a payout if you lose an eligible part of your body or body function. If you die, your beneficiaries will receive a payout instead. Eligible bodily losses vary between insurers but could include limbs, eyesight, fingers, toes, hearing and the ability to communicate audibly. Losses (including death) must occur through an accident. So, you won’t get ADD coverage for natural hearing loss or dying from cancer, but you could be covered if you die in a car accident or lose a finger while operating machinery.
When you get a credit card, line of credit, personal loan, mortgage or some other form of debt, you may be offered insurance to cover debt repayments in the event you lose your job, get a serious illness or become disabled. This costs extra on top of your regular debt repayments, but it can provide peace of mind so you have one less thing to worry about should your source of income get cut off.
Additionally, lenders may offer insurance to write off your debt should you pass away before it has been repaid. Once again, this costs extra, but it can be beneficial to relieve your cosigners (if you have any) from having to pay back your debts after you die. It can also be beneficial for the beneficiaries of your estate, as they usually receive inherited assets less any amount needed to payoff your debts.
Stacie Hurst is an editor at Finder, specializing in loans, banking products and money transfers. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Writing, and she completed one year of law school in the United States before deciding to pursue a career in the publishing industry. When not working, she can usually be found messing around with games, photography or floral arrangements in memory of her former days as a flower shop assistant.
Earn a high interest rate on your US savings and get six free debits per month when you sign up for this cross-border savings account.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.