Employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits give people up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is eligible for people who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

COVID-19: How to apply for employment insurance

You can receive up to 55 per cent of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week

As many businesses close up shop and lay off employees to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500,000 people applied for employment insurance in the span of a week.

Employment insurance (EI) sickness benefits offer up to 15 weeks of income replacement and people who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine are eligible. You can receive up to 55 per cent of your prior wage to a maximum of $573 a week.

To be eligible to apply for EI, an applicant needs to demonstrate inability to work for medical reasons, or that regular weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40 per cent for at least one week.

Apply online at canada.ca as soon as possible. Those who wait more than four weeks after the last day of work to apply may lose benefits.

To apply online you will need the names and addresses of employers in the last 52 weeks; dates employed with each employer, along with the reasons why you’re no longer employed; full mailing address; social insurance number and banking information.

READ ALSO: B.C. announces $5 billion financial relief for COVID-19 pandemic

The online application takes about an hour to complete and information is saved for up to 72 hours from the time you start.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19, the one-week waiting period of EI benefits has been waived for new claimants currently quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.

In addition, a new dedicated toll-free phone number has been set up to support inquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period to help speed up the process.

READ ALSO: Closures, revenue, staffing among main impacts of COVID-19 on 90% of B.C. business: survey

People claiming due to being quarantined do not need to provide a medical certificate. People who can’t complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine can apply later and have the claim backdated to cover the period of delay.

Applicants need to obtain a record of employment to provide work history for the claim.

Once an application is complete, Service Canada mails a benefits statement that includes a four-digit access code. This code is needed, along with your social insurance number, to access your application and complete biweekly reports.

The biweekly reports are submitted to Service Canada for as long as you receive benefits, this helps show your ongoing eligibility.

Those who don’t qualify for EI may qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, announced earlier this week to help people who have lost their source of income due to COVID-19 and/or related measures.

READ ALSO: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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