How to Apply for EI in Canada 2021
The first step is: take a deep breath.
If you’ve been employed in Canada and recently lost your job, Employment Insurance (EI) is a government program that can help you keep the lights on while you look for something new. EI is also often used by new parents taking time off work and people who need time off work to care for someone with a critical illness or injury. If you’re worried about the application process, be assured that while it’s not always painless, it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Learn more about how to apply for EI in Canada with Wealth Rocket’s step-by-step guide below.
Table of Contents
A Guide to Applying for EI in Canada
Now that you’ve taken a deep breath, let’s take a look at how to apply for EI in Canada.
The first step is making sure that you’re applying to the right EI program. The Government of Canada has announced multiple COVID-19 emergency benefits.
If you’re looking to apply for benefits for a reason related to COVID-19, such as self-isolation or to take care of a child whose school has closed, there may be another program you should use instead of EI. Before applying, you’ll want to review some details.
Documents Required for EI
Whether you’re applying in-person or online, you’ll need the following documentation for your application, which includes:
Your personal information Hopefully, this one is pretty easy! You’ll need your social insurance number (SIN), your mother’s maiden name, and your home and mailing address.
Your banking information
Employment Insurance benefits are paid primarily by direct deposit. You can find your bank, transit number, and account numbers on a cheque or in your online banking portal, which is usually available through your bank or credit union’s mobile app.
Your employment history
The application requires you to give information about all your employers in the last 52 weeks. This includes the name and address of each employer, dates of employment, and the reason you left each job.
Your income history
The application requires you to give details on which weeks you made the most money and how much you made during those weeks.
Your Record of Employment (ROE)
Your Records of Employment (ROE) is a formal document your employer prepares after your employment ends. Most employers submit ROEs directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), but you may need to submit a copy yourself if your employer hasn’t.
Applying for EI
To get started, visit the Employment Insurance Benefits page on the Government of Canada website. Those without internet access can also apply over the phone or in-person at a Service Canada office.
If you're applying online, the website will take you through a step-by-step application process.
You'll then have to consent to how the government uses your information. You'll also need to confirm that you haven't already started an application.
You'll then have to answer questions about what type of EI benefits you're applying for, whether you have access to a reference code. If you don't know what that is, the answer is most likely no.
At this point in the process, you'll receive a temporary password. If you cannot complete the application, you can then use the temporary password to pick up where you left off later.
You have 72 hours to complete your application before having to start again. Write down your temporary password and keep it somewhere safe, even if you think you won't need it.
Next, you'll select your communication preferences, such as whether you prefer service in English or French and optional contact methods like email and phone.
You'll also need to enter your mailing address and home address if it's different. You'll also answer some questions concerning demographics.
The application process will then ask you for your banking information to receive your funds via direct deposit.
You can also insert the information later. If you don't have it handy, you can choose to receive your benefits by mail if you prefer not to use direct deposit.
From this point, you'll then enter information about your employment history, including the dates you've worked and how much you made. You'll need to provide these details for every employer you've worked with over the past 52 weeks.
You'll then answer questions about your relationship with your employer, other programs you may have access to, like workers' compensation, pensions, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).
You'll also answer some questions that will help determine your eligibility and asked about other income sources like self-employment income.
Finally, you'll be asked to agree to your rights and responsibilities as an EI recipient and attest that the information you're providing is correct. Once you click submit, your application begins processing.
How Much Do You Receive From EI?
If your application is approved, you should receive your first payment within 28 days and be paid retroactively to the first day after the mandatory 1-week waiting period.
The amount you’ll receive is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum of $595 per week.
Due to COVID-19, Canadians who apply for EI until September 2021 will receive a minimum of $500 per week.
All of these numbers are pre-tax. EI payments count as income on your taxes, but it’s likely that they won’t withhold enough tax from your payments to cover what you owe.
How Long Does EI Last?
The length of time you can receive EI benefits depends on where you live and how many insurable hours you worked before claiming EI.
The minimum is 14 weeks, but if you kept a full-time job for at least a full year before claiming EI, you should receive EI for 36 to 45 weeks.
If you find a job or don’t meet the eligibility requirements for one or more weeks while you’re receiving EI, your claim will remain open, but your payment will be $0.
Our Final Thoughts
Once you’ve completed your EI application, it should be just a few weeks before you start receiving payments and get details on your claim. All that’s left to do is update your resume and get to work looking for your next job.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! The money you receive from EI counts as income and is subject to tax, and you’ll have to pay income tax at your marginal tax rate.
The CRA will withhold some income tax, but it’s likely not enough to cover what you’ll owe. Take advantage of the extra cash flow while you’re not working and worry about your taxes in April.
Nope! If you could quit your job and go on EI for a while anytime you felt like it, the world would be a better place.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t get EI if you’re unemployed because you’ve quit your job. The rules say you have to have lost your job through no fault of your own.
Maybe! If you got fired without cause – i.e., laid off or fired without being given an official reason, you can most likely claim EI.
If you got fired for a cause, you wouldn’t qualify for EI. The good news (given the circumstances) is most employers will choose to terminate without cause even if there’s a performance issue or some other problem, rather than go to the trouble of proving a cause. A general rule of thumb is that if you were given notice or pay in lieu of notice, you can apply for EI.