CERB Transition to Employment Insurance (EI)Program

Hours Credits to Enhance Access to EI Regular Benefit and EI Special Benefits
Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours an individual has worked in the year prior to their application, or since their last claim. This is known as their qualifying period. However, the Government of Canada recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadians from accumulating the number of insurable hours that is normally required, and is taking action to address this. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work,  EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:

The hours credit will also be made retroactive to March 15, 2020 for claimants who were looking to transition early from the CERB to EI maternity, parental, compassionate care, family caregiver or work-sharing benefits but could not establish their EI claim due to insufficient hours. For these claimants, the qualifying period will also be extended.

The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year, in recognition that labour market conditions remain uncertain and will take time to stabilize.

Minimum EI Unemployment Rate Across Canada
As a first step to help eligible Canadians transition from CERB back into the EI system and into the labour force, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% is being used for all EI economic regions in order to lower the hours required to qualify for EI regular benefits. This measure is effective for one year starting on August 9, 2020. Individuals in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while those in regions with a higher rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual higher rate.

Normally, the unemployment rate in the region in which a claimant resides at the time they file their claim determines:

The EI system uses regional unemployment rates to determine access to EI regular benefits, given that it is generally more difficult for individuals to find new work when unemployment is higher.

In recognition that the pandemic has negatively impacted labour markets in ways that extend beyond traditional measures of unemployment, this measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits at 420 hours of insurable employment (before the hours credit is applied), provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular benefits, and set 14 as the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate. Combined with the hours credits noted above, individuals can qualify for EI with 120 hours of work.

Minimum Benefit Rate
To further support clients and in addition to the above measures that will increase access to the program, new EI claimants as of September 27, 2020 will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week (or $240 for extended parental benefits), if this is higher than what their benefits would otherwise be.

The EI benefit rate is typically based on a worker’s average weekly earnings before their EI claim. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a negative impact on a worker’s weekly earnings either because they lost their job or saw their hours of work reduced. The minimum benefit rate of $400 will reduce the negative impact on EI benefit rates for these workers and align with the weekly benefit rate for the new Canada Recovery Benefit described below.


EI measures scenario 1: regular benefits
Worker whose seasonal employment was disrupted due to COVID-19 pandemic

What could Mariam qualify for?


EI measures scenario 2: maternity and parental benefits

Expectant mother looking to take maternity/parental leave who does not have enough hours for EI due to the COVID-19 pandemic

What could Inez qualify for?

EI Fishing Benefits
The Government is also implementing temporary measures to support self-employed fish harvesters who rely on EI fishing benefits in the off-season. These measures will allow EI fishing benefits for these workers to be calculated using either their actual fishing earnings for their current claim, or their fishing earnings from their claim for the same season from the previous year, whichever is higher.

Source: Subject to change. Please consult with the Government of Canada website. (Updated August 21, 2020)

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