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Sickness benefits

Employment Insurance doesn’t just offer benefits for regular layoffs or maternity/parental leave. EI also offers something called “sickness benefits”.

In order to qualify for sickness benefits, you have to be an employee that except for an injury, illness, or quarantine would have been able to work. You could receive this benefit for a maximum of 15 weeks.

EI sickness benefit eligibility

How do you know if you are entitled to this benefit? Here is a list of factors that may entitle you to receive the benefit:

  • If your normal weekly earnings have been reduced by more than 40%;
  • If you have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period or, if you are a self-employed fisher, you have sufficient insurable earnings from self-employment in fishing during the qualifying period;
  • If you are employed in insurable employment; and
  • If you meet the specific criteria for receiving EI sickness benefits.

How are the 600 hours of insurable employment calculated?

These hours are calculated based on a qualifying period, which is the shorter of:

  • The 52-week period immediately before the start date of your EI claim; or
  • The period since the start of a previous EI benefit period, if that benefit period started during the last 52 weeks.

What do I need before applying?

You will need the usual paperwork before applying: your social insurance number, your mailing and residential address, your banking information and your mother’s maiden name.

However, for sickness benefits, you may have an additional paperwork requirement: a medical certificate.

You have to obtain a medical certificate which shows how long you are expected to be incapacitated. The medical certificate has to be made out and signed by a doctor. Now, Service Canada may not ask you right away for the certificate, but they can ask you for it at any time, so you need to keep it where you can access it easily.

How do I apply for these benefits?

Just like when you are applying in the other categories for EI benefits, you would fill out an online application to find out if you are eligible to receive it. The online application takes about an hour to fill out. If you have been deemed eligible, the first payment you should receive should be made within 28 days that your application was received.

Note that you will also need to provide employment information in the application, just like you would if you would apply for regular benefits, such as:

  • The names and addresses of all employers you worked for in the last 52 weeks, as well as the dates of employment and the reasons for separation from these employers;
  • Your detailed version of the facts, if you quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks; and
  • The dates and earnings for each of your highest paid weeks of insurable earnings in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is the shorter period. This information will be used, along with your record(s) of employment, to calculate your weekly EI benefit rate.

You should contact Service Canada if you are having trouble filling out your online application.

Read more:

EI Sickness Benefits - Overview

Employment Insurance benefits