Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits

by Mike Holman

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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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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 plonkee

It could be worse, don’t think for a minute that if they stopped this sort of program you’d be paying anything other than an excessive amount of tax. I’ve never heard of a politician that couldn’t find things to spend taxpayers’ money on.

2 WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com

The EI program has traditionally run at an egregious surplus (I think 6 billion per year?), but the recent budget has addressed this by ensuring the program only runs a *certain* surplus. I forget the exact number. There have been many complaints that it has been too hard to qualify for – which is a double edged sword since there are many who try to cheat the system, but there are many who have legitimate claim who are denied as well.

3 Leslie

From past experience: if you have a legitimate reason for the delay in applying for EI benefits, try asking for the claim to be backdated to the date of termination. You have nothing to lose and may get an assessor in a generous mood. Legitimate reasons don’t include being on vacation or didn’t get around to it … it does include illness (dr note), or employer delayed giving you the ROE. With maternity benefits, an early delivery that starts your leave immediately and keeps you from filing would be an excellent reason. You don’t have to wait for the ROE to apply for benefits–you can go from work right to the Service Canada office, and just indicate ROE to follow when received. Your claim clock starts on the date of filing–all claims have a waiting period in which no benefit is paid. The purpose of the waiting period is to encourage those laid off to find another job quickly and avoid unnecessary claim processing where there might be only a week between ending & finishing a job. Why this waiting period applies to maternity claims is beyond me.

4 Nobleea

“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”.”

You’ve got me a bit confused. If I understand correctly, mother can take a year off while ‘keeping’ her job and father can take 37 weeks while ‘keeping’ his job. BUT, only a total of 50 weeks combined will be paid EI? So the rest of the time would be unpaid. And the 37 weeks for dad and 52 weeks for mom don’t have to be at the same time.

5 telly

Can a dad take say 46 weeks, & mom 4? While it’s probably not very common, it may make sense if the mom is the higher income earner.

WRT taxes, working in the US, I can tell you that EI & CPP deductions are significantly lower than Social Security (6.2% of gross, capped at $102k) and Medicare (1.45% of gross, no cap) deductions in the U.S. Oddly enough, there are fears that SS program will not be able to pay current benefits by 2041 while CCP seems to be fully funded and going strong.

In other words, don’t complain. ;)

6 squawkfox

“I am a repeat baby-maker”

LOL
Best line ever.

7 Jerry

I agree with squawkfox. =)

In addition, Employment Insurance sounds like a dream to me, as a baby-making (well, ONE baby made) American. The abysmal amount of time my wife could take off after having our daughter was one of the biggest things to lead to her post-partum stress. It was awful.

OK, maybe EI doesn’t make Canada as nice for new parents as, say, Sweden… but it’s gotta help.

Jerry
http://www.leads4insurance.com

8 Four Pillars

Plonkee – you got that right.

WDAMMG – I personally don’t think it’s too hard to qualify for EI. I would imagine that someone who only works a couple of months at a time wouldn’t qualify but in that case, it’s probably time for a new career anyways.

Leslie – great point, it never hurts to ask. Filing the claim without the ROE is the right thing to do. They will also pay benefits without the ROE if you can show that you tried to get it and can prove your income.

Nobleea – you are correct – the 52 weeks for Mom and 37 weeks for Dad are just the amount of time off they can take. Only 50 weeks of EI will be paid in total. The time off doesn’t have to concurrant but I *think* you have to start the time off before the child turns 1.

Telly – You can take any combination you want.

Squawk – thanks! :)

Jerry – sorry to hear about the stress. The maternity leave system is pretty good here in Canada.

9 ht

a mother can take 37 weeks same as the father…. but the mother is also entitled to 15 weeks maternity so that she can rest after birth and prior too birth which would give the mother at total of 52 weeks. She is also entitled to 15 weeks sick leave.

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