New Emergency Employment Insurance Benefits Passed In Canada

Published: March 25, 2020

Below is a summary of EI sickness benefits, EI regular benefits, the new Emergency Care Benefit and a new Emergency Support Benefit for Canadian members passed by the Canadian government.

 EI Sickness Benefits

Workers that have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine may apply for Employment Insurance sickness benefits. Workers applying for EI sickness benefits must have:

  • experienced a decrease in gross earnings of more than 40% for at least one week;
  • accumulated 600 insurable work hours in the 52 weeks prior to the start of a claim; and
  • been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine

EI sickness benefits provide workers with up to 55% of their gross earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week for up to a maximum of 15 weeks. The Federal Government has recently announced that it will be waiving the otherwise mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or those who are engaging public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine. The Federal Government has also indicated that claimants will be eligible for EI sickness benefits without the usual requirement of a doctor’s note or other medical certificate.

Workers that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine should file a claim for EI sickness benefits immediately. Any delay in filing a claim could give rise to a denial or reduction of EI sickness benefits.

For more information on EI sickness benefits, including eligibility requirements, please visit this link.

The Federal Government has also set up a new dedicated toll-free phone number for workers in quarantine:  Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

EI Regular Benefits

Provided workers have the requisite number of insurable work hours in the qualifying period, employees that are otherwise healthy and capable of working may apply for Employment Insurance regular benefits arising from a loss of employment due to COVID-19.

The qualifying period is the shorter of the 52 week period prior to the start of any benefit claim or the period from the start of a previous benefit claim to the start of your new benefit claim if the employee applied for benefits earlier and the application was approved in the last 52 weeks. Generally speaking, employees will need between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment based on the unemployment rate in the employee’s area during the qualifying period to qualify for EI regular benefits.

EI regular benefits provide an employee with up to 55% of their gross earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week. The length of any EI regular benefit entitlement varies from region to region depending on the unemployment levels in the region where the employee works. Currently, the Federal Government has NOT waived the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI regular benefits for those employees who have been laid-off as a result of a COVID-19 slow-down.  For more information on EI regular benefits, including eligibility requirements, please visit this link.

Emergency Care Benefit

The Federal Government recently announced the creation of an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks administered through CRA for those workers who don’t otherwise qualify for EI sickness benefits and/or EI regular benefits.

The Federal Government has indicated the Emergency Care Benefit will be available to the following class of workers:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits;
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits; and
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Based on these initial eligibility requirements indicated by the Federal Government, the new Emergency Care Benefit appears to be available to piece work subcontractors in the construction industry, “gig” economy workers and part-time employees who would otherwise not be eligible for EI sickness benefits and/or EI regular benefits.

For more information on the Emergency Care Benefit, please visit this link:

Emergency Support Benefit

The Federal Government also recently announced the creation of an Emergency Support Benefit for Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID-19’s impact. The Emergency Support Benefit will be delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. Details of the benefit amounts payable to individuals and eligibility requirements for this benefit have yet to be articulated by the Federal Government. The Federal Government has indicated the Emergency Support Benefit will provide payments comparable to EI and last for 14 weeks. When further details become available, they will be communicated to members