Employment Insurance (EI)

The best place to find information regarding EI (employment insurance benefits) is on the Service Canada website.

Some key points from their website include the following:

Am I eligible for EI regular benefits?

You may be entitled to receive EI regular benefits if you:

  • have paid premiums into the EI Account;
  • lost your employment through no fault of your own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • are ready, willing, and capable of working each day; and
  • are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them).

You may not be entitled to receive EI regular benefits if you:

  • voluntarily left your employment without just cause;
  • were dismissed for misconduct; or
  • are unemployed because you are directly participating in a labour dispute (strike, lockout, or other type of dispute).

How much will I get?

We cannot tell you exactly how much you will receive without having processed your application. However, we can tell you that the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings. As of January 1, 2012, the maximum insurable earnings amount is $45,900. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $485 per week.


The basic rate and the maximum insurable earnings amounts are reviewed each year. For more information on the most recent rates and amounts, visit the Service Canada Web site.

Can I receive too many benefits and be asked to repay part or all of the amounts received when I do my income tax return?

That depends on your situation. EI payments are taxable, no matter what type of benefits you receive. Federal and provincial or territorial taxes, where applicable, will therefore be deducted from your payment.

After filing your income tax return, you may be required to repay your EI benefits based on:

  • your net income; and
  • the amount of EI benefits that you received.

If your 2012 net income from all sources exceeds $57, 375, you will be required to repay 30% of whichever is less:

  • the amount by which your net income exceeds $57, 375; or
  • the total regular benefits paid in the tax year.

You do not have to repay your EI benefits, no matter what type you receive, if:

  • your 2012 net income is less than $57, 375;
  • you received less than one week of regular benefits in the preceding 10 tax years; or
  • you were paid special benefits (maternity, parental, sickness, or compassionate care benefits).

However, if you received both special and regular benefits in the same tax year, you may be required to repay a portion of your regular benefits.

If you received regular benefits that overlap two calendar years, you can be exempt from repayment in the first tax year. However, in the second tax year, you cannot qualify for exemption.

You will be informed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if you have to repay EI benefits. All details will be included on the Notice of Assessment that the CRA will send to you after reviewing your income tax return.