Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance in the form of benefits for some workers. There are different types of benefits:

  • Regular benefits are usually for workers who have lost their job. However, workers qualify when they have an "interruption of earnings,” so they may also qualify for benefits during lay-offs.
  • Maternity/parental benefits are paid to individuals who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child or are caring for a new-born.
  • Compassionate Care benefits are paid to persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.
  • Sickness benefits are for workers who are unable to work due to injury or sickness.

The law related to this program is called the Employment Insurance Act). The EI system is administered by the federal government through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).


Workers qualify if they have worked a certain number of hours during a specific amount of time, called a qualifying period, and if they have not quit without “just cause" or lost their job "because of their misconduct." The required number of hours varies depending on the local unemployment rate however workers should apply even if they may not have enough hours as the rate may change and they may become eligible. The table of hours required can be obtained from the local Service Canada office.

How do I apply for Employment Insurance (EI)?

Workers can apply online, over the phone, or at their local Service Canada office:

Apply Online

Telephone: 1 800 206-7218
Service Canada: 1-800-622-6232

Once you have applied for EI, it usually takes 28 days from the date the HRSDC receives your application to begin collecting EI benefits. If HRSDC decides that you do not qualify for EI they will notify you by mail. You can appeal this decision. Below you will find the appeal process outlined.

What is the process for appealing a decision?

Click here to view

Our Clinic does provide service in this area. We can provide you with summary legal advice and legal representation if you qualify for our services and if you have been denied E.I., suspended and an overpayment has been created. Please contact us to determine if and how we can assist you.


The Steps to Justice website offers step-by-step information about employment insurance and other common legal problems.