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COVID-19 Federal Benefits and Supports – What Do I Get From EI?

COVID-19 Federal Benefits and Supports

What Do I Get From EI?

By Nizam Shajani, CPA, CA, MBA

We are seeing a record amount of layoffs and anticipate more.  COVID-19 will result in a number of people relying on employment insurance (EI) for an extended period of time.

Apply for benefits as soon as you stop working.  Delays may result in lost benefits.

Sick leave

If you are receiving EI due to sickness, including self-isolation and quarantine due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for sickness benefits.  This includes 15 weeks of financial assistance of 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

You usually require a medical certificate to show that you are unable to work for medical reasons that include illness, injury, quarantine or any medical condition that prevents you from working.  Due to the pandemic, the medical certificate requirement is being waived.

If you have been laid off due to COVID-19 for any of the above reasons, ask your employer to use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16).

You can apply for sick benefits here.

Shortage of work

If you are no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be entitled to regular benefits.

The benefits will be determined when you apply and may change due to the volume of applicants and government announcements.  As an estimate you may receive the basic rate of 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings to a maximum of $573 per week.  The maximum would be available if your annual earnings are more than $54,200.

You can receive EI from 14 weeks to a maximum of 45 weeks and this is dependent on the unemployment rate in your region at the time of filing your claim and the number of insurable hours in the last 52 weeks since your last claim.

There is a seven-day waiting period, however this waiting period may be waived for COVID-19 related layoffs by calling Service Canada at 1-833-381-2725.

You can apply for EI here.

After you have applied for EI

EI payments are usually received within 28 days of the date your application is received.

Bi-weekly reports are required to be filed while you are on EI to prove your eligibility.  This can be done online.

If you work while on EI you will be able to keep $0.50 of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90% of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI benefits.  If you earn more than 90% of the weekly insurable earnings, the EI benefits will be deducted $1.00 for every dollar earned.

Self Employed

On March 18, 2020 the federal government announced EI benefit measures for the self-employed.  Details are anticipated sometime in April.


This information is for discussion purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. There is no guarantee or warrant of information on this site and it should be noted that rules and laws change regularly. You should consult a professional before considering implementing or taking any action based on information on this site. Call our team for a consultation before taking any action. © 2020 Shajani LLP