Unemployment Insurance - Would I qualify?

Regarding the ‘fear’ of unemployment post the other day – I decided one way to combat that, is to know what would happen should I lose my job. If I already have a plan, a budget, and know what’s going to happen – then I will be more prepared and more calm.

I didn’t realize when I started writing that this post was so long.

So to be eligible for regular benefits (EI) I must show that:

  • you have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days
  • in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim ( called the qualifying period), you have worked for the required number of insurable hours

Okay, so what is the required number of insurable hours. Apparently, in Canada, this depends on what ‘economic region’ I am in.

When you show that you have at least 490 hours related to employment in the labour force during the labour force attachment period (the year prior to the qualifying period) you will need between 420 and 700 insurable hours (depending on my economic region – see below) to qualify for regular benefits. Otherwise, you will need a minimum of 910 hours to qualify regular benefits.

The Required number of hours for my region if I have worked at least 490 hours related to employment during the labour force attachment period is 665 hours.

Now, thankfully, in my case, I have worked full time for the last 52 weeks – which means I have about 1900 of employment hours. If I were to lose my job at this point – I wouldn’t have to worry about the labour force attachment period. That said; I would probably meet the minimum hours requirement of the labour force attachment period – although I was a student so it could be sketchy.

Okay – so I’ve learned that If I lose my job, I need to be unemployed and without pay for 7 consecutive days, and I know that I have worked enough hours to qualify for EI.

Next thing I learned was that:

  • You must serve a 2-week unpaid waiting period before your EI benefits begin to be paid. Generally, this period is the first 2 weeks of your claim. This is like a deductible for any kind of insurance.

  • If you have provided all the required information and if you can be paid EI benefits, your payment will be issued usually within 28 days from the date of filing your claim. If you cannot be paid, we will notify you of the decision made on your claim.

What that means is that you have to wait about a month to SEE ANY MONEY, and it will only be about two weeks worth of pay as you lose the first two weeks in the unpaid waiting period.


So I would have to have one month’s expenses (at a minimum) to hold me over. Which I do! That’s great ($1000 in my E-fund currently).

But how much money would I get and for how long? Well you can receive EI in my economic region for 20 to 43 weeks!

They have a weekly benefit rate, which have a lot of different rules if you are low income or have children. For me the following would apply:

The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average GROSS insured earnings up to a yearly maximum insurable amount of $42,300. This means you can receive a maximum payment of $447 per week. Your EI payment is a taxable income, meaning federal and provincial or territorial, if it applies, taxes will be deducted.

This is how the payout is calculated *Note they always use the gross amounts*

  1. We look at the total earnings you have been paid in the last 26 weeks ending with your last day of work.

  2. We take into consideration the number of weeks in which you have worked in the last 26 weeks.

  3. We determine the unemployment rate in your region and the minimum divisor that applies at that unemployment rate.

  4. We determine your average weekly insured earnings by dividing your total earnings in the last 26 weeks by the greater of: a) the number of weeks you have worked in the last 26 weeks; orb) the minimum divisor number.Important: The divisor cannot be less than 14 or greater than 26.

  5. We then multiply the result by 55% to obtain your weekly benefit.

Using my after tax income this is my calculation:

1. Total GROSS earnings in last 26 weeks = $22,500
2. Number of weeks worked in the last 26 weeks = 26
3. Current minimum divisor that applies (see above image of a spreadsheet) = 21
4. Determine average weekly insured earnings
a. $22,500/26 = $865.38
5. $865.38 X 55% = $475.96

So on the surface, my weekly benefit would be $475.96 However, I’ve already said that there is a maximum benefit of $447/week. So that’s what I would have to budget with.

Weekly Benefit = $447 (less taxes)

Which according to an online calculator would be about $380 after tax/week.

Do you know if you would qualify for EI Benefits, how much would you get?

I got most of this information from the Service Canada website.



  1. This is actually a very interesting post! I had to collect EI about 5 years ago and I was shocked at how little I actually got.. now I understand why I got what I did!

  2. They actually don't deduct very much tax, because your earnings are all in the lowest bracket. Are there layoffs again?

  3. I figured it would be the lowest tax bracket.. but I couldn't find anything that was 100% accurate.

    I figure it's always better to guess low, then you don't plan to have money you'll never get.

    They haven't stopped lay offs....it's not as bad as it was... but there's been a few more in our division... which sucks.

  4. oh - i was going to say, if you have a better way to figure out the tax that would be deducted let me know. just used that free calculator that I linked too.

  5. I found another calculator - this on is on the CRA website:


    By it's calculation I would still get about $380/week.

  6. $380 is likely about right. When my husband was an apprentice he received $357/week - and that was before the last EI maximum increase.

    They never take enough taxes off though - you always seem to have to pay.

    Another important piece of information - if you make more than a certain amount in a year (around $48K I think) then you have to pay back a portion of your EI at tax time.

  7. Thanks for commenting Anonymous! It's good to know I'm on the right track for figuring that out.


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