Whether you left your job on good terms and searching for other opportunities or you left your job on perhaps not the greatest terms, employment insurance (EI) is a great benefit to have in your back pocket if you need it.
However, it does require one to pay attention because Service Canada has many layers of security, and you may need to keep track of several different logins, passwords, access codes, and security codes in order to avoid delays in receiving benefits.
Let’s provide a bit of background about what EI is and then explain some of the security involved so you’re prepared when they give you codes you’ll need later on in the process.
What is Employment Insurance?
Employment insurance in Canada is a program of providing supplementary income by the government to those people who qualify for the benefit. There are several ways one might qualify for the benefit, but broadly speaking, EI is meant to help those who recently lost their job and need assistance between jobs, have left a job to pursue higher or further education, or have left a job to take care of their families.
EI funds come from a pool of money collected by Service Canada in the form of EI premiums. These premiums are paid not only by the employee but also by the employer. In order to qualify for EI benefits, you must have been paying EI premiums for a certain period of time in the 52-week period prior to when you request benefits.
EI is not intended to completely replace your income when you lose your job. In general, individuals may qualify for up to 55% of their average insurable weekly earnings.
Everything you could possibly want to know about EI benefits can be found on the Employment and Social Development website, but let’s discuss the information you’ll need to have on hand when you get there.
Employment Insurance Access Codes
Almost everything you might need regarding Service Canada can be found in your CRA My Account. This service requires a username, password, and a security code! Be sure to have these pieces of information on hand so that you can gain full access to My Account.
While this information might seem to be enough, you’ll get more when you actually apply for EI benefits. After you’ve completed the application, you’ll receive an EI access code along with your EI benefit statement. This is a four-digit code that gets mailed to you within 1 to 2 weeks of submitting your online application.
You should note that an EI benefit statement and access code do not necessarily mean that you’re approved. Your EI access code is required to submit the reports every two weeks as required. It is also needed to access the status of your claim.
Set an appointment, write a sticky note, or something, but don’t forget to submit your report every two weeks. If you forget to do so, you could lose your benefits.
How To Find Your EI Access Code
The initial EI access code will be sent to you on the EI statement that you receive in the mail. This should arrive within one or two weeks of completing your application. The code itself can be found in the shaded area of your benefit statement.
If you either did not receive your EI benefit statement or you no longer have your access code, worry not! Your first step should be to call the Service Canada Employment Insurance line (1-800-206-7218). Unfortunately, if you did not receive your code and cannot complete your required reporting, you could still lose your benefits and you’ll have to apply again.
Changes During Covid-19
EI regular benefits requirements have changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The following are effective until September 2021.
- The 28-day waiting period has been waived
- A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada, which affects the number of required insurable hours
- You only need 120 insured hours to qualify for EI benefits
- You’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, but you may qualify for more.
- Eligibility for all up to 50 weeks of regular benefits
- The 52-week period to accumulate insured hours is extended if you received CERB
While there are already a number of pieces of information required to log into Service Canada and My Account, be sure to keep track of your EI access code if you’ve recently applied for EI benefits.
If you lose it, you will need to quickly call the EI line to get a new one and make sure you can complete your reporting requirements. In normal conditions, you’d be able to visit your local EI benefits office.
However, there are a number of changes that have taken place due to the Covid-19 pandemic in addition to offices closing.