Who can get EI benefits?

You may be able to get regular EI benefits if:

  • it was not your fault that you lost your job, and
  • you are looking for work.

To decide if you can get benefits, Service Canada looks at the number of hours you worked during your qualifying period.

Qualifying period

Your qualifying period is usually the last 52 weeks before the start of your claim. Sometimes your qualifying period can be longer.

For example, it could go back more than 52 weeks if during that time you were sick, injured, pregnant, or in jail.

Sometimes it can be shorter. For example, if you had another EI claim that started in that 52-week period, your qualifying period only goes back to the start of that claim.

Number of hours

Your insurable hours are the total number of eligible hours you worked in your qualifying period. To qualify for EI, you need a certain number of insurable hours.

Usually you need 700 insurable hours or more in your qualifying period.

You might qualify if you have between 420 and 700 insurable hours. You need fewer hours if the unemployment rate in your region is more than 6%.

You will not qualify if you have less than 420 insurable hours.

If you give false or misleading information, Service Canada usually makes a note of this in your file. This is called a “violation”.

If you have a violation in your file in the last 5 years, you might need more insurable hours to qualify for EI.

What if I do not have enough insurable hours?

It can be hard to figure out the exact number of hours you worked during your qualifying period. Even if you think you might not have enough insurable hours, you should still apply.

You, your employer, or Service Canada may not agree about the number of hours. If this happens, any of you can ask the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to decide.

For more information, go to the CRA website at en/revenue-agency.html or call 1-800-959-8281. For TTY, call 1-800-665-0354.

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