Applying For Employment Insurance (EI) Because of COVID-19

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Applying For Employment Insurance (EI) Because of COVID-19

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood

Applying For Employment Insurance (EI) Because of COVID-19


Covid-19 Employment Insurance

The coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in Canada with the number of infections and deaths rising every day. In response to this dire situation, people are being asked – and in many cases are being required – to keep a certain distance away from each other. This “social distancing” entails staying no less than 6 feet away from each other in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

But as you may imagine, such social interactions may not be possible in many cases, particularly when it comes to business. Certain business platforms simply do not allow for such distancing to occur. Many businesses are characterized by the gathering of people in close quarters, and to avoid such interactions, many non-essential businesses have been forced to shut down, hurting not only the business owners but the people who work for them. 

Many Canadians have been laid off as a result of COVID-19, leaving them in desperate situations where the money needed to keep up with their bills is suddenly lacking.

Thankfully, the government is taking measures to financially support people who have lost their jobs and their wages as a result of what is happening right now. As would be expected, the number of people applying for Employment Insurance (EI) has skyrocketed. People need an income to pay their bills, and getting some funds through EI is crucial right now for many.

Need more funds to cover costs? Consider loans while on Employment Insurance benefits.

What is Employment Insurance? 

Employment Insurance (EI) is an unemployment insurance program that provides individuals who have lost a job with temporary income support. Applicants must qualify for EI benefits in order to receive this temporary financial relief. Employees must have paid premiums over the past year and meet certain qualifying conditions to be eligible for EI benefits.

However, given the unique circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has introduced additional financial support for employees who otherwise would not qualify for EI benefits to make sure nobody falls through the cracks. The new measures would allow for the creation of an emergency benefit for employees who are off work as a result of being laid off or who are self-isolating.

How To Apply For Employment Insurance

In order to apply for EI benefits, you will need to take certain steps, including the following:

Provide Necessary Information

Documents and information that may be required to apply for EI include:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Proof of immigration status and work permit if your SIN starts with a 9
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Current home and mailing addresses
  • Banking information
  • Information regarding employment, including names, addresses, and dates of employment
  • Reason for parting with your employers over the past year
  • Insurable earnings 
  • Salary received, before deductions, for the last week worked

Online Application

Considering the social distancing that we are all being asked to practice, online EI applications may be made, especially for those who are in quarantine or who are ill. There is also an exception being made for those who are unable to complete their EI application as a result of COVID-19. In this case, applicants can apply at a later date and have their EI claim backdated to cover the delayed time frame. 

Provide Documents

Certain paperwork may have to be submitted, such as your Record of Employment form (ROE). This form is completed by employers for employees who have to stop working and are no longer being paid by the employer. The ROE is the most important document required when applying for EI and can be submitted electronically or via paper form. 

You can visit My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to look over any ROEs that you have been issued in the past by previous and current employers.

Traditionally, a medical note may have been required when applying for EI when the situation surrounds a medical situation. But in the case surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, no medical note is required. 

Wait For Your Access Code

After you have successfully applied for EI, you’ll receive a 4-digit access code and benefit statement by mail. The code and your SIN will be needed to receive updates about your application and to fill out regular bi-weekly reports.

Look Over Your Status

Once you receive your benefit statement, make sure to review it in detail and understand where you are in terms of your application status. 

How Fast Will I Get My EI Payment?

It’s understandable that people who have been laid off will want to gain access to funds right away to make sure they do not fall behind on any bills. But there will still be a certain waiting period that applicants will have to go through before their application is accepted and payments start being made. 

As would be expected, My Service Canada is being flooded with EI applications as a result of so many more people applying for these benefits than is typical. In fact, over 500,000 Canadians applied for EI over the last week compared to about 27,000 applications for the same week in 2019. As such, there is a backlog of applications and delays may be expected.

Employees are allowed to waive the one-week waiting period as a result of the current crisis. To do that, workers can call 1-833-381-2725 toll-free to speak with a representative. Service Canada locations are also taking in-person applications, though anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is asked to stay home and apply electronically. 

Can I still apply for a personal loan during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak?

Do I Still Have to Provide Bi-weekly Reports? 

Bi-weekly reports will need to be completed to prove your eligibility for EI benefits, or else you risk losing them. 

Recap of New EI Rules in Response to COVID-19

A number of rules apply when applying for EI benefits under normal circumstances. But given that this is a unique situation, certain requirements have been changed or waived, namely: 

  • No medical note is required to apply for EI
  • The one-week waiting period may be waived

Further, an economic aid package has been introduced which includes a Canada Emergency Response Benefit that would provide as much as $2,000 every month for up to 4 months for applicants who are not eligible for EI but have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are in isolation, or must remain at home to care for family.

Final Thoughts

This is certainly a trying time for Canadians and people all over the world. Not only do we have to protect our health, but we must also do what is necessary to keep up with bill payments, which can be very difficult for those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Fortunately, our government is taking steps to provide financial help to those who need it. While there are certainly kinks that must be worked out due to the overwhelming need in the country, help is available.

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