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EI Sickness Benefit

In response to COVID-19, an existing program has been modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for workers who are unable to work due to illness, injury, or quarantine—including self-isolation.

With the launch of the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canadians who apply for Employment Insurance sickness benefits due to COVID-19 will automatically have their application transferred to the CERB program.

As it currently stands, an individual who is eligible for the CERB can receive the benefit for a maximum of 16 weeks. If after those 16 weeks the individual is still unable to work, they can apply for EI regular or sickness benefits, if they qualify.

This resource is made available mainly as a reference document to the EI Sickness Benefit program, but also for those individuals who may need to apply for EI after the CERB’s 16-week period has elapsed. You can find more information on the CERB .

The modifications to the EI Sickness Benefit (EISB) include the following:

  • The one-week waiting period for benefits has been waived for new claimants who are quarantined or in self-isolation.* Normally you would have to be in quarantine for a week before you can apply for EISB.
  • Claiming EISB due to quarantine will not require a medical certificate.
  • A toll-free number dedicated to waiving the EISB’s waiting period has been established: +1 833 381 2725. This number should only be called after you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits.
  • People who cannot complete their claim for the EISB due to quarantine (i.e., no internet access or access to required supporting documents) can apply after their quarantine period is over and have their claim backdated to cover the full period.

What are the benefits?

  • Up to 15 weeks of financial assistance.
  • Up to 55% of earnings to a maximum of $573 per week.
  • A family supplement will be automatically added to your benefit payments if:
    • Your EISB is less than $573 per week, annual net family income is less than $25,921, you have at least one child under 18 and you (or spouse) receive the Canada Child Benefit. No separate application is required for this.

Benefits are paid out 28 days after the application and required documents are received.

Who is eligible for the EISB?

In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:

  • You are unable to work for medical reasons;
  • Your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week; and
  • You have worked 600 hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter. If you have had an EI claim in the last 52 weeks and you have worked less than 600 insured hours since your last claim, you should contact Services Canada at +1 800 206 7218.

For those who are self-employed, there are two additional criteria that must be met:

  • The amount of time spent on your business has decreased by more than 40% for at least one week due to your medical condition; and
  • You earned at least $7,279 of self-employed earnings in 2019.

How to apply?

Have the following information ready:

  • names and addresses of your employers in the last 52 weeks
  • dates you were employed with each employer and the reasons you’re no longer employed with them
  • detailed explanation of the facts if you quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks
  • full mailing address and your home address, if they are different
  • social insurance number (SIN)
  • mother’s maiden name
  • banking information, including financial institution, branch (transit) number and your account number, to sign up for direct deposit

The following documents are required to apply:

  • Medical certificate – waived if you are claiming EISB due to quarantine
  • Record of Employment (ROE)

What’s next?

  • Upon completion of the application you will be mailed a benefit statement with a 4-digit access code.
  • This access code and your SIN are required to complete bi-weekly reports about your ongoing qualification for EISB.
  • Complete these reports online or by calling +1 800 531 7555.

Additional resources

Download the EI Sickness Benefit PDF [ 212 kb ]

We are here to help

We understand that you want to be agile and responsive as the situation unfolds. Having access to experts, insights and accurate information as quickly as possible is critical—but your resources may be stretched at this time.

We’re here to support you as you navigate through the impacts of coronavirus on your business and your investments.

Grant Thornton LLP wants to caution that these rules are still new and continue to evolve as the government continues to re-evaluate the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We may still see changes to these measures—as well as new measures—as the government attempts to address the issues that have been raised by us and the tax community. Therefore, any analysis included herein, reflects our knowledge as of the date and time of this email and may no longer be applicable if changes do occur and you should proceed with caution before making any decisions.