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Employment Insurance Benefits – Sick Benefits

Program Overview:

Employment Insurance Benefits (EI Benefits) is a federal program, administered through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), and is legislated through the Employment Insurance Act. EI Benefits are available to people who have lost their employment through no fault of their own – meaning you were not fired or quit your job, cannot find work, and have contributed to the Employment Insurance Program. EI is a contribution-tested program (like CPP-D), therefore the program is only available to those who meet the minimum contribution period, and have worked the required number of hours. There are two EI Benefits Programs: Regular Benefits for those who are able to work and Special Benefits including Sickness benefits and Compassionate Care Benefits. This fact sheet will focus on Sickness Benefits. Your eligibility or entitlement is not impacted by any of your liquid or acquired assets.

Qualifying Criteria:

In order to be eligible for EI Sickness Benefits, you must be medically unable to work due to sickness or injury, have your earnings decrease by more than 40%, and have worked a minimum of 600 insured hours in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim.

Definition of Disability:

Your application for EI Benefits will include a general application, an application for Special Benefits, and a medical completed by your physician. The medical will note information regarding the basic nature of your illness, and your expected date of returning to work if known. Your Record of Employment will need to accompany your application, or can be submitted soon afterwards.

Waiting Period:

The first two weeks following the date you left work is considered a waiting period, and no benefits are paid for this period. EI Benefits start four weeks after applying.

Payment Amount:

The basic benefit is 55% of your average insurable earnings up to a maximum of $413/week. The Sickness Benefits are paid for a maximum of 15 weeks, or less if your doctor indicates on the medical that you can return to work at an earlier date. Low income families with children may be eligible for a higher amount. You can collect EI Sick Benefits and CPP-Disability at the same time, but money received from other sources (such as Provincial programs, earned income, Workers Compensation) will likely be deducted dollar for dollar from your EI payment. EI payments are taxable.

Other Benefits:

  • Regular Benefits, Parental Benefits (and the potential to transfer between some programs)
  • Limited employment-related services


  • Try to have your application complete when you apply for EI Benefits, including your Record of Employment
  • EI will not reimburse you for any costs associated with getting your medical form completed
  • You will need personal identification to accompany your application
  • Local EI offices can be found in the Blue pages of your phone book, and your MP may be a source of information

Contact information:

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
1-800-206-7218 – Automated Telephone System
www.hrsdc.gc.ca (find a Human Resource Centre of Canada office close to your home)

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