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All About Employment Insurance (EI)

All About Employment Insurance (EI)

Employment Insurance. It is one of those things you really wish you didn’t have to pay into every single paycheque. It’s only a few dollars, really, but it sure adds up over time. I watch my paycheques throughout the year, and it starts off with $20 here, and $20 there. Suddenly, by the end of a year, I realize that I’ve “lost” $600 paying into Employment Insurance, and I really don’t know what EI even is, as I’ve never had to use it. Well because my job transferred to a new location, and because my wife is married to me, she was able to apply for Employment Insurance.

Yeah, apparently EI covers more than just losing your job. EI will cover you if you do lose your job, yes, but they will also cover you if you are available for employment but don’t have any. They will also cover you if you are sick and unable to work, they are the ones that pay you for maternity leave and parental leave, and they will even cover you if you have to leave your job to take care of a sick relative. Who knew?

The only problem with Employment Insurance is that they aren’t going to chase you down to make sure that you are taking advantage of their benefits. You have to know their regulations, play by their rules, and jump through their hoops. If you do so, however, you can get yourself covered while you take care of yourself, your relative, or while you are looking for work. As my wife and I have gone through this lately, here’s what you have to do in order to get EI.

Check EI Qualifications

Even if you have lost your job, you have to lose your job in a specific way to qualify for Employment Insurance. Setting your place of employment on fire (purposefully) while emailing your boss how much you hate him will most likely disqualify you. Check this link for more specific details as to who, exactly, can apply for EI. My wife and I had absolutely no idea that she might qualify for EI until one of our friends mentioned it to us. I guess they had known someone else who was able to apply, so asked if we were going to. This, of course, led us to actually look into it and see if it was true – which it was. So we applied!

Apply For Employment Insurance

That’s the second step to getting EI. You actually have to start filling out paperwork. Make sure you apply as soon as you stop working. The quicker you get your application in, the sooner they can process it and get the money flowing into your bank account. You can’t apply until you are done work, but make sure you have everything ready to apply the day you are done. Otherwise you will be stuck in limbo without any cash flow while you wait for papers to show up and get processed.

Something strange happened with our application, for example. We were waiting for my wife’s work to send us her Record of Employment so that we could show Services Canada that she was, in fact, done work. We waited three weeks before phoning to see what had happened to it. Apparently they had not processed it yet (has to be delivered within 15 days by law), but would now do it because we had asked. So that put us over three weeks behind schedule in terms of our application. It had been so delayed, in fact, that my wife had to go through the entire application process over again because of the delayed ROE. So make sure that you have all the necessary documents in place ahead of time (see this website), make sure they get delivered to Services Canada so that you can be sure that you get your money as soon as possible!


The one thing that Employment Insurance requires is a report every two weeks. They just want to make sure that you are still unemployed, and that you are still employable and looking for work. In order to complete these reports, my wife has been writing down every single job that she has been applying for. That way she can prove, should the government ask, that she is still looking for work and not just waiting for her EI to run out. These reports will also ask if you have worked during the two week period, received training, or became unavailable for work. Simply fill out the report (it is all online) every two weeks per their request, and then EI will send you your next cheque (direct deposit).

Thankfully, that’s all there is to EI. Like so many other benefits, however, you have to know about it, and you have to pursue them in order to take advantage of them. Even if you think you don’t qualify for EI, but are unemployed, it is worth double chequing to see just in case you are actually eligible for EI. If you are able to apply, be sure to play by their rules to ensure a smooth transition from your job into unemployment, and hopefully back into employment!

Have you ever applied for Employment Insurance? How did it go?


  1. Troppus

    Interesting…EI is something I got some bad feelings about until recently. Being self employed, not until recently could you elect to pay EI and have benefits should you take ill (or if female) get pregnant. I ran into an issue with CRA about EI while being self employed (but having worked for over 15 years prior paying into EI). Despite phone conversations, dispute letters and the whole nine yards, they refused to give it to me for a period of time when I took ill. In any case, they’ve updated their polices to allow self employed people/contractors/consultants the option to pay into EI. But knowledge is power in any case! Thanks for sharing.

  2. nancy (aka moneycoach)

    Glad you raised the profile of EI here. So many folks think of it like a welfare benefit. It isn’t. It’s like home insurance or car insurance, and folks should use it when it’s needed, just as if they had had a car accident – that’s what it’s there for.

  3. Cassie

    I went on EI earlier this year when I was laid off from my job. Honestly, I felt humiliated to be on it, despite having paid into it for years. I had to fill out the biweekly status updates, but unlike your wife I didn’t have to list every job I applied for. I had heard the listing was required, but for whatever reason they didn’t ask me for it. I was unemployed for just over a month and a half, and my first EI payment came during my first week back on the job. Some days I really do shake my head at the systems that are set up for our benefit.

    • Tessie

      at least you have a chance with home or car insurance. You are forced too pay into EI for years and be refused well unless you are laid off or pregnant even the ill get refused at lease you choose to pay home or car insurance.

  4. ic dealer

    I ran into an issue with CRA about EI while being self employed (but having worked for over 15 years prior paying into EI). Despite phone conversations, dispute letters and the whole nine yards, they refused to give it to me for a period of time when I took ill.

  5. heretop

    Like so many other benefits, however, you have to know about it, and you have to pursue them in order to take advantage of them. Even if you think you don’t qualify for EI,

  6. Prinshawn

    How can the government single out one group of individuals when there are so many other hard working people looking for work but are in a different career category. It seems that Fishermen get the best benefit of all as they claim EI and only have to show that they have made little money fishing during the duration. Someone of these Fishermen now take work under the table and claim everything, get EI and get paid cash with no tax. I see that this is very unfair as there are so many individuals that work in Technology fields like Graphic Designers/Web Designer, Art fields such as painters and many more that would really benefit themselves for receiving EI just like fishermen.

    This is my rant for the day but if you do not believe me please check out It may change your career path to having a year-round vacation, kicking up your feet and grabbing a cold case of beer.

    • Brit

      If my ei payment shows online that it was processed on Thursday, when shall I receive it in my bank account?

  7. Aryan Menon

    Great job.This information is really useful.

  8. k1

    What if I just snowboard all winter after working 8 months hard. Do I have to still apply for work or can I just say im vacationing and still collect money?

  9. Tessie

    I think EI is a joke, you are forced to pay into something you never use and to even try and receive benefits need to jump through hoops to then just be refused. Why is it called Employment insurance?? there is no insurance so glad my home insurance doesn’t work this way!! but at least I have a choice to pay into it!!

  10. Mitchell

    Do I have to by law ?
    Pay into EI when being employed ?

  11. Rafa Fan

    My first time being laid off.. paper work has been submitted, just waiting to see what day the check shows up. Fingers crossed

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