Since September 26, the federal government has changed the rules of the employment insurance program. While some criteria remain flexible to help workers still struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, others have been tightened. Here’s what you need to know.
As announced in the last federal budget, to be eligible for Employment Insurance, you must now have accumulated at least 420 insurable hours of work in the last year or since the end of your last participation in the program, regardless of the region where you live.
This measure, which aims to accommodate people who have worked less since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be in effect until September 24, 2022. After that, the unemployment rate in your region will determine the number of hours. that you must have worked to be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
Also new since September 26: if you are applying for Employment Insurance because you are ill, you must provide a doctor’s note. This requirement had been temporarily withdrawn during the health crisis.
Benefits of at least $ 300 per week
The federal government has lowered the minimum amount of EI benefits from $ 500 to $ 300 per week, as is the case with the Canada Economic Stimulus Benefit (CEP), until November 20, 2021.
“From November 21, 2021, the benefit rate will be calculated using the usual best variable weeks method. The number of best weeks used will vary from 14 to 22, depending on the unemployment rate in your EI economic region, ”said Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) spokesperson Saskia Rodenburg.
Typically, your benefit amount is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum of $ 595 per week since January 1, 2021.
And if you’ve received severance pay, know that it won’t be deducted from your benefits if you apply for EI by September 24, 2022.
“The exact amount a claimant will receive cannot be determined until their claim is processed,” says Rodenburg.
Please note: your benefits will begin to be paid one week after you submit your employment insurance claim. This waiting period, which was abolished on September 27, 2020, is back.
How long will you receive Employment Insurance benefits? From 14 to 45 weeks. It all depends on the unemployment rate in your area and the number of insurable hours you have worked. Note, however, that the number of weeks has been increased until September 24, 2022.
Emergency economic recovery benefit
If you are self-employed, you have until October 23, 2021 to apply for the Emergency Economic Recovery Benefit if you have lost at least half of your income.
The same is true for the Caregiver Economic Stimulus Benefit and the Canada Economic Stimulus Sickness Benefit, which is given to those who have COVID-19 and need to self-isolate.
What will happen afterwards? “As the pandemic progresses, the Government of Canada continues to monitor the situation closely and the effects on the job market, workers and businesses,” said the ESDC spokesperson.
In other words, we will have to wait for the decision of the government of Justin Trudeau.