Employment Insurance (EI)

Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance in the form of benefits for some workers. Canadians who are sick, pregnant, or caring for a newborn or adopted child, as well as those who must care for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death or who must provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child may also be assisted by Employment Insurance.

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 (2010). 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.

Types of Employment Insurance benefits

There are several types of benefits available to Canadians, depending on their situation.