1. Figure out if you qualify

I am going to be a parent. Can I get EI?
This question has an answer and 5 steps
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1. Figure out if you qualify

You might qualify for EI maternity or parental benefits if:

  • you are employed in insurable employment and you worked at least 600 hours in your qualifying period
  • your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40% because you are on leave
  • you cannot work because you are pregnant or recently gave birth to a baby or you are a parent caring for a newborn or recently adopted child

Qualifying period

Your qualifying period is usually the last 52 weeks before the start of your claim. To figure out your qualifying period, start on the Sunday before your interruption of earnings, and then count backwards 52 weeks from there.

If you are the birth mother, to get EI maternity benefits you must have worked at least 600 hours of insurable employment during your qualifying period. To get EI Parental Benefits each parent who applies must have worked at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period. The birth parent can use that same 600 hours to qualify for maternity benefits.

Your qualifying period can sometimes be shorter than 52 weeks. For example, if you have been on EI in the past year, your qualifying period will only go back to the start of your last EI claim.

Your qualifying period can be longer than 52 weeks if there were times in the past year when you could not work because, for example, you were sick, injured, pregnant, or in jail and later found not guilty.

If you are self-employed, you can apply for these benefits if you have paid EI premiums for at least 52 weeks. To arrange to pay premiums as a self‑employed worker, you can set up an online account at www.servicecanada.ca. Choosing to pay premiums as a self-employed worker is an important decision that usually cannot be changed. It is important to get legal advice about whether paying premiums is the right decision for you.

Insurable hours

The total number of hours you worked in your qualifying period is called your “insurable hours”. To qualify for EI, you need a certain number of insurable hours. .

The number of insurable hours you need to qualify for maternity or parental benefits is 600 hours.

If you have more than one job during your qualifying period, you can add up the hours from all of your jobs to figure out your insurable hours.

If you give information to Service Canada staff that you know is not true or not accurate, it is called a “violation”. If you have any violations in the last 5 years, you might need more insurable hours to qualify for EI.

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Government of Canada
Reviewed: September 24, 2019

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