I lost my job for reasons beyond my control. Can I get EI?

1. Figure out if you can get Regular EI Benefits

You might be able to get regular EI benefits if you’ve:

  • lost your job through no fault of your own, and
  • worked enough insurable hours in your .

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 , and then count backwards 52 weeks from there.

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 you were sick, injured, pregnant, or in jail and later found not guilty.

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.

Usually, you need between 420 and 700 insurable hours to get EI. The exact amount depends on the rate of unemployment in your area. The lower the unemployment rate where you live, the more hours you will need to qualify for EI.

EI rules have changed because of COVID-19. As of September 27, 2020, the government has reduced this to 420 hours. And as part of the changes, the first time you apply for EI, you’ll get 300 bonus hours. This means that you’ll need only 120 insurable hours to qualify.

The government has said that these bonus hours are “one-time”. It’s not yet clear what this means. But it might mean that you won’t get the bonus hours if you have to apply for EI a second time during COVID-19.  

These new rules are expected to last for one year.

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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