How To File For Unemployment Benefits In Canada

Filing for unemployment benefits in Canada is a straightforward process designed to provide financial support to individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own. This guide aims to walk you through the eligibility criteria, the application process, and additional support measures available during times of crisis.

The package, now before Parliament, is intended to adjust the criteria for eligibility for Employment Insurance (EI)  and includes two emergency benefits for those who do not.

unemployment benefits
Photo credit:

Who Qualifies For The Benefits?

Your eligibility for EI will still be based on your specific situation, such as the local employment rate and the hours worked throughout the previous 52 weeks. The government recommends that people apply as soon as possible to find out if they qualify.

A delay of more than four weeks following your last day of work means that you could lose access to those benefits. Additionally, you must have lost your job through no fault of your own, including lay-offs, to receive regular EI. Also, EI sickness benefits include not being able to work due to illness or quarantine.


Under recent amendments, the one-week waiting period for sickness benefits will be waived for those who have been told to self-isolate or quarantine. This means that applicants can be paid for the first week of their claims.

If approved, the maximum amount paid for the EI will be $573 per week.

Workers — including self-employed workers — who are quarantined or ill with COVID-19 may apply, as can those who stay at home to take care of a non-qualified family member with COVID-19. Parents staying at home to take care of children due to school closures are also covered and may apply whether or not they qualify for EI.


It is intended to provide long-term income support, but the government has not yet stated how much it will offer or how long it will provide such support.

How To Apply For The Benefits?

Before applying, ensure you have your Social Insurance Number (SIN), personal identification, employment records, and medical certificate.

You can apply for EI benefits online through the Service Canada website or in person at a Service Canada Centre. The online application is the quickest method and is available 24/7. Subsequently, you may request that a one-week waiting period be waived by calling the government toll-free number at 1-833-381-2725 or by teletypewriter at 1-800-529-3742.


Wait for Approval: After submitting your application, you will receive a Benefit Statement and an Access Code by mail. This code allows you to access your EI claim information online. It usually takes about 28 days to process an EI claim.

If you lose a job, the EI can provide a partial income replacement. Please note that payments are treated as taxable income. The applicable federal and provincial taxes will be deducted.

EI unemployment benefits range anywhere from 14 weeks to a maximum of 45 weeks. It depends on how high the unemployment rate is in your area and the number of insurable hours you have accumulated in the last year.

The Emergency Care Benefit And The Emergency Support Benefit

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government introduced additional support measures, an Emergency Care Benefit of $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks

In addition to routine EI payments, there are related revenue-generating programs. Benefits are available to those who qualify when they are ill or when they have (or adopt) children. This also applies to people who provide compassionate care for someone who is sick, including their critically ill children.

The conditions of employment vary with the local unemployment rate. A minimum of 420 hours of work in the preceding 52 weeks is required in areas of high unemployment (over 13 percent) and 700 hours in areas of low unemployment (less than 6 percent).

unemployment benefits


Applying for unemployment benefits in Canada is a critical step in securing financial stability during periods of joblessness.

This benefit is used when money is needed to provide a buffer against misfortune. Don’t allow your ego to keep you from applying if you find yourself losing your job amid the pandemic.

Also read – Tips for Getting Back to Business After the Pandemic