The Government of Canada recently announced increased financial support to help Canadians during the covid-19 situation in form of Employment Insurance (EI) and the Emergency Care Benefit.

EI is a short-term financial benefit to cover basic living costs while individuals seek future work. This article outlines EI, compensation, eligibility, and next steps. Please click here for details on the Emergency Care Benefit.

Employment Insurance

The federal government oversees Employment Insurance (EI) and there are 2 types of EI – sickness benefits & regular benefits.

  • EI regular benefits can provide up to 45 weeks of financial assistance to individuals who lost their jobs to no fault of their own, such as covid-19 layoffs.
  • EI sickness benefits can provide up to 15 weeks of financial support for medical reasons such as illness or quarantine.
How Much Will I Receive?

The basic rate for EI (regular) is 55% of your average, weekly insurable earnings. As of March 2020, this is a maximum of $573 per week. EI benefits are taxable income; therefore, federal and provincial taxes will still be deducted.


You may be eligible for EI if you:

  • Were employed in insurable employment
  • Lost your job through no fault of your own
  • Have been without work and without pay for 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
  • Have worked the minimum number of insurable hours
  • Are ready, willing, and capable for work
  • Are actively looking for work
Where do I Apply?

Please note that EI requirements require accurate, relevant paperwork to be processed. Due to social distancing, the online application is recommended.

Online -The application takes 60 minutes with the link here.

In Person – Service Canada is located downtown at 520 Seymour Street and is open 8:30am-4:00pm, Monday-Friday. Do not visit Service Canada if you are sick or feel unwell.

Phone Support -Individuals can only call the EI Telephone Service at 1-800-206-7218 to update claims and modify changes, not submit an application.

If you are in quarantine or hospitalized, Service Canada has an expedited COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-381-2725.

Next Steps

Whether you have just applied for EI or received it, spend 1-2 hours every day seeking, and applying for work opportunities. Seek opportunities on the BC Tourism Job Board, LinkedIn, Indeed, and BC Jobs. Please be patient with potential employers as they adapt to this shift in the workforce and their response time.

Lastly, consider pivoting your skills to apply for a job in a new industry. Did you perform back-of-house duties at an accommodation? Time management, attention to detail, and customer service skills are transferable to in-demand, cleaning jobs at health centers.

We understand that economic uncertainty is a lot to deal with. Please Skype or Facetime a friend a day. Get out and breathe in the fresh air even if it’s from an apartment balcony. We are all in this together and will get through this together.