Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits

by Mike Holman

I’m currently taking some time off work to help look after my new little baby. In Canada there is a government run program called Employment Insurance (EI) which basically takes a portion of everyone’s paycheque and pays it out as benefits for people who are recently unemployed. One of the newer features of this program is that new parents can take time off work and collect EI benefits which will help out with their budget. A great thing about paying the excessive amounts of tax in Canada is that once in a while, you get some of it back!! Of course, this is the equivalent of hitting yourself in the head with a hammer and then stopping – but regardless, it feels good!

I wrote a fairly detailed post about how to apply for parental and maternity benefits a while ago but since I just went through the process again, I figured it was time to revisit the process.

First of all, since I am a repeat baby-maker, it was a lot easier to apply for EI this time. I logged into the online EI application and didn’t have to set up a new account which saved a lot of time. The application took about 10 minutes to complete. My next step was to take my ROE (record of employment) to a nearby Service Canada Centre. All I did was line up for about five minutes and handed the form in (after paying for two hours of parking). I realized later that I could have mailed it but that would have added a couple of days to the process. I should start getting my benefits within four weeks.

Don’t delay

It’s hard to get your act together when you have a new baby but it’s important to get the application in as soon as possible so that you can start receiving the benefits. If you wait too long, then you might not get all the benefits you are entitled to.

Who claims EI – Mommy or Daddy?

The way this benefit works is that the mother can get up to 50 weeks of benefits (if she qualifies) which is a combination of maternity and paternity leave. Dad is eligible for up to 35 weeks of benefits but the maximum number of weeks paid for a couple is 50. Two things to note:

  1. When the mother applies, she only applies once and that will be for both parental and maternity leave benefits.
  2. Although the EI benefits have to be shared within a couple, the time off allowed does not have to shared. The mother can legally take 52 weeks off and the father can take 37 weeks off and there is no “couple maximum”.
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