Changes to EI sickness benefits

Changes to EI sickness benefits
On December 18, 2022, the Canadian government increased the number of weeks that workers can get Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. Workers who started their claims on or after December 18 can get up to 26 weeks of benefits. For claims started before that date, workers can get up to 15 weeks.
Qualifying for sickness benefits
EI sickness benefits are meant for people who cannot work because they're ill, injured, or in quarantine. The worker must show that because of one of those reasons, their normal weekly earnings have gone down by more than 40% for at least one week.
The worker also needs to have enough insurable hours in their qualifying period. Insurable hours are the total number of hours they worked in their qualifying period. Workers can earn these hours at more than one job. For sickness benefits, workers usually need to have worked at least 600 hours. The qualifying period is usually the 52 weeks (one year) before the worker started their EI claim.
Workers can get EI benefits if they're self-employed, as long as they paid EI premiums for at least 52 weeks before they started their claim.
How to apply
Workers can apply online:
If a worker can't apply online or is having trouble with the online form, they can contact Service Canada for help at 1-800-206-7218.
To apply for EI sickness benefits, the worker needs a doctor or approved medical practitioner to complete a medical certificate form. The medical practitioner can use the EI form or use their own. The doctor has to say:
  • when the person stopped being able to work because of their condition, and
  • how long they'll have to be off work.
The worker can apply for benefits before they get this form and send it in later.
The worker also needs some other information when they apply. For example, they'll need their Social Insurance Number, their mailing address, and information about their work.
What happens after applying
EI sends the worker a benefit statement with an access code, by mail. The worker uses this code and their Social Insurance Number to check the status of their claim online or by calling Service Canada.
If their claim is approved, EI will ask the worker to send them reports every 2 weeks. The report tells EI if the worker is still eligible to get the benefit and asks questions about the past 2 weeks like:
  • Have you worked?
  • Did you have other income?
How much workers can get from EI
The worker does not get paid any benefits for the first week of work they had to miss because they were sick. EI calls this the "waiting period".
How much the worker can get each week depends on their income in the qualifying period. Workers can get 55% of their normal weekly income, up to a maximum of $650 a week for 26 weeks.
If the worker disagrees with a decision
Most decisions that EI makes can be reconsidered. For example, the worker can ask EI to change:
  • the decision to refuse benefits, or
  • the amount of benefits they get.
Asking for a reconsideration is free.
The worker must ask for a reconsideration in writing, using a form called Request for Reconsideration. Service Canada must get the form within 30 days of when the worker found out about the decision they disagree with.
Getting legal help and information
For questions related to EI, workers can contact Service Canada.
For help dealing with problems related to EI, workers can contact their local community legal clinic or the Workers' Action Centre.
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