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Am I eligible for Employment Insurance (EI)?

The eligibility requirements depend on where you live and what kind of benefits you apply for.

Income Benefits

This is temporary income support while you look for work or while you cannot work.

Regular Benefits

You may be eligible for regular benefits if you lose your job.

To be eligible for regular benefits, you must:

  • Have worked the required number of hours in your area. You must have worked these hours within the last year. This number is usually 420-700 hours, but it depends on the unemployment rate in your area. If you are working for the first time, you might need to have 910 hours. Find how many work hours you require in your area.
  • Have paid into the EI program. Normally, your employer deducts an EI amount from your paycheque. This is how you pay into the EI program.
  • Be without pay for at least 1 week (7 days).

Usually, you are not eligible for EI regular benefits if you:

  • Quit without a good reason.
  • Are fired for a good reason.
  • Have not worked for a certain period of time.
  • Have not paid into the EI program (for example, consultants, contract workers and so on).

Some reasons for quitting or being fired are considered "just cause." If you feel that you quit with a good reason or were fired without a good reason, try to explain your situation when you apply for EI benefits. In some cases you still may be eligible for the benefits.

Special Benefits

For all types of special benefits, you must show that:

  • You are losing 40% or more of your weekly income; and
  • You have worked 600 hours or more during the last 52 weeks or since your last claim.

Each type of benefit has additional requirements.

As of January 31, 2010, self-employed people can choose to pay into EI. If you are self-employed and choose to pay into EI, you may be eligible for EI special benefits.

Maternity Benefits

Maternity benefits are for women who are pregnant or have just given birth to a baby.

  • You must sign a statement that says when you expect your baby to be born, or what date the baby was born.

Find more information about maternity benefits.

Parental Benefits

Parental benefits are for mothers or fathers of a newborn baby or an adopted child.

  • You must sign a statement that says when the baby was born or when the adopted child is placed with you.

Find more information about parental benefits.

Sickness Benefits

If you are sick, hurt or quarantined, you may be eligible for sickness benefits.

  • You must get a medical certificate to confirm how long you are sick or hurt.
  • You must show that you cannot work, but you would work if you were not sick or hurt.

Find more information about sickness benefits.

Compassionate Care Benefits

If you have to take time off work to care for a very sick family member, you might be eligible for compassionate care benefits.

Find more information about compassionate care benefits.

For More Information

  • Employment Insurance (EI) - Official information about EI on the Service Canada website.
  • EI Regular benefits - Describes what the regular benefits are, who is eligible and how to apply. From Service Canada.
  • EI Special benefits - Describes maternity, parental and sickness benefits, who is eligible and how to apply. From Service Canada.
  • EI Benefits for Self-Employed People - Information about who is eligible, how to apply and types of benefits. From Service Canada.
  • Employment Insurance - This booklet has clear language information about Employment Insurance. From CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).
  • Have you been fired or laid off? - If you have been fired or laid off with no notice, or no pay, your employer may be breaking the law. Find out about your rights. This pamphlet is about your rights under the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA). From CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).
Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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