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FAQ

I’m thinking of quitting my job.  Will I be able to collect EI?
I have been fired.  Can I collect Employment Insurance Benefits?
Can I attend school while Collecting Employment Insurance Benefits?
Can I earn money while on Employment Insurance?  How much?
Can I get Employment Insurance if I am sick or injured?  For how long?
How is the Benefit rate calculated?
How long do I need to work to qualify for benefits?

I’m thinking of quitting my job.  Will I be able to collect EI?

Claimants who quit their jobs may still be eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits if they can show that they left “with just cause”.  “Just cause” has a particular meaning to the E.I. Act and has been interpreted in the jurisprudence, or previous cases that have gone to appeal. If you leave your job voluntarily, you must prove to the Commission that you had just cause for doing so.  Although the list is not exhaustive, the E.I. Act states 13 circumstances that are generally viewed as just cause. There is also a list of 40 reasons that may amount to just cause.

Even if you fall under one of these circumstances, you still have to prove that you had “no reasonable alternative” but to leave your job.    Employment Insurance could argue that quitting your job was not the only reasonable alternative. Some examples of reasonable alternatives that the Commission might expect you to pursue before voluntarily leaving your job are:

  • Find another job before quitting your current employment

  • Speak with the employer to resolve any problems

  • Try to remedy the situation

  • File a grievance with the union

  • Request a leave of absence

  • Request a transfer

  • Consider taking your case to other authorities such as your provincial labour board, employment standards office, or human rights commission

In the case of quitting, the obligation is on you to prove that you had just cause.

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I have been fired.  Can I collect Employment Insurance Benefits?

If you are fired from your job, you may still be eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits.  The Employment Insurance Commission will conduct an investigation to determine if you were fired for ‘misconduct’. 

To be considered misconduct under the Employment Insurance Act, a person’s actions must be:

  • committed deliberately, or so carelessly that it might as well be deliberate.

  • so serious that the employee could normally foresee that it would result in his or her dismissal.

  • the real cause for the dismissal and not an excuse for getting rid of an employee.

In some cases, even though E.I. decides you lost your job due to misconduct, you can later argue that it was not serious enough or not willful, and therefore it is not misconduct.

The burden of proof for proving misconduct is on the employer and the Employment Insurance Commission.  If the evidence is equally balanced, the benefit of the doubt will go to the claimant. Being dismissed for negligence, incompetence, or unsatisfactory work is not normally misconduct for Employment Insurance purposes.

If you receive a notice of disqualification for misconduct, it is vital that you contact either your union or the Community Unemployed Help Centre (or a Help Centre in your area). Remember, appeals must be made to the Commission within 30 days of receiving a decision.  (See also the Appeals Information section of this website)

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Can I attend school while Collecting Employment Insurance Benefits?

In order to attend school or training while receiving EI benefits, you must be in an ‘approved’ course of instruction.  Your training must be approved by EI before starting any courses or you risk being disentitled to Employment Insurance Benefits.  Courses that are not approved may interfere with your ability to accept work and therefore your entitlement to benefits. To speak to someone about employment skills related training, contact your local Employment Centre.

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Can I earn money while on Employment Insurance?  How much?

 A complicated calculation is used, but essentially, 50% of any money you earn while on claim is deducted from that weeks EI benefit amount.  You can earn up to 90% of your gross average weekly wages as determined by EI when calculating your benefit rate. (maximum insured earnings is $912) before earnings are deducted dollar for dollar from your benefits.  For examples and more information click here. This rule applies to regular benefits, parental benefits, and compassionate care leave.  Claims for maternity and sickness have no allowable earnings.

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Can I get Employment Insurance if I am sick or injured?  For how long?

If you are ill or injured and unable to work at any type of employment, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance Sick Benefits.  Claimants normally need 600 hours of insurable employment to qualify for sick benefits, regardless of the region in which they live.

You will need to have your physician fill out a medical form indicating the date you became incapacitated, how long you are expected to be away from work, and the nature of the illness or injury.  You will need a Record of Employment from your employer(s). EI sick benefits can be collected to a maximum of 15 paid weeks.  The Benefit rate is calculated the same way for all types of benefits.

If you are injured at work, you should immediately inform your employer and also contact worker’s compensation in your province.

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How is the Benefit rate calculated?

The benefit rate is based on the average insured earnings in a 26-week period preceding and including the last paid working day. If you have worked less than the full 26 weeks in this period, the Commission may use a “divisor” between 14 and 20 based on the rate of unemployment in your region. The effect of the divisor may be that your average earnings will be less than what you normally may have earned in a week. Once the average earnings have been determined, Employment Insurance will then take 55% to establish your benefit rate.

It is important to note that Employment Insurance will only insure up to $912 per week before taxes.  Therefore, the maximum weekly benefit rate for claims is $501.

If you have children, your net family income is $25,921 per year or less, and you receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit, you or your spouse may be eligible for an increased benefit rate called the Family Supplement.

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How long do I need to work to qualify for benefits?

Employment Insurance uses the number of hours you have worked in the past 52 weeks to determine your eligibility for benefits. The 52-week qualifying period can be extended to 104 weeks in certain circumstances.

The number of hours required for regular benefits ranges from 420 to 700 depending on the unemployment rate in the region in which you live. You can look up how many hours you need in your region by clicking here.

For special benefits (sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care), claimants need 600 hours in their qualifying period. For more information click here.

The number of hours needed for both regular and special benefits may be affected if you have received violations in the past for providing false or misleading information to the Commission. Previous violations could mean that you need up to 1400 hours to qualify.

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