Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Insurance

a Service Canada store front facade and Canadian flag.

Updated On February 22nd, 2021:

Are you looking for info on the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), or Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) ? These programs have been extended, as announced by the Federal Government on February 19th, 2021. Click here for more info on this topic.

When a job comes to an end unexpectedly, it can be a scary time. If you have never experienced this before, or if you are new to the Canadian job market, you may not be aware of some of the key terminology. You may not be aware of where to start to look for help in this time. 

Here is a brief description of what you need to know with specific information about differences with COVID19 related claims.

1. What is Service Canada?

Service Canada is the government program that helps Canadians access such things as a Social Insurance Number, Employment Insurance, Canadian Passports, Old Age Security, and the Canada Pension Plan. Every employee contributes a percentage of their wages to the Employment Insurance plan in Canada.

This allows you to receive some financial support in the form of unemployment benefits from the government when you find yourself out of work due to no fault of your own. When you wish to claim unemployment benefits, you need to have a claim submitted and approved on the Service Canada system/database.  See more under point number 3: “How do I file a claim for E.I.?”

2. What is “E.I.”?

Employment Insurance (EI) provides regular benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job.
Always apply for EI benefits as soon as you stop working. You can apply for benefits even if you have not yet received your Record of Employment (ROE). If you delay filing your claim for benefits for more than four weeks after your last day of work, you may lose benefits.

The Service Canada website says “If you are entitled to receive EI regular benefits, you should receive your first payment within 28 days of the date we receive your application and all required documents. Before you start receiving EI benefits, there may be one week for which you will not be paid. This is what we call the “waiting period.” The waiting period is like the deductible that you must pay for other types of insurance.”.

3. How do I file a claim for E.I.?

Check with your employer to ensure your last pay and vacation pay have been processed, and ask that they complete a “Record Of Employment.”.

  • If you are not working because of a work slow-down, even if that slowdown is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, go here:
  • If you are not working because of illness, or because you’ve been directed to self-isolate or self-quarantine by either your company or healthcare provider, or because you have to look after children who cannot be in school at this time because of the pandemic, go here:
  • Please be aware that during times where there are massive increases in people being out of work, that the online system can be very slow. Be patient and give each screen a minute or 2 to load the information before you give up.

4. Where can I find more information about Employment Insurance benefits?

Please go to the Service Canada website:

If you need help accessing information by phone, mail, or in person, you can find that information here:

5. What is a “R.O.E.”?

R.O.E., or Record Of Employment, is a document issued by your employer that states your total income earned with that company over the last 52 weeks, including dates of employment. It will also state the reason you are no longer working, for example: “Illness” or “Shortage Of Work” amongst others.

When you apply for employment insurance benefits (sometimes called “E.I.”), you will need the Record Of Employment so that Service Canada can calculate how much money you are entitled to be paid while you are claiming unemployment benefits.

After your last pay has been completely processed, including all vacation pay issued, your employer (including ABL Employment/ABL Careers) can file your R.O.E. electronically on the Service Canada website – so you do not need to submit to Service Canada yourself. You can always contact ABL to inquire if the ROE has been submitted online yet.

Please be aware that in times of huge demand for Employment Insurance, either because of a pandemic like COVID-19, or even just seasonally, the system can be overwhelmed and slow down the process of getting R.O.E.’s submitted online. We do everything we can to get these submitted as quickly as possible, including submitting them in off-peak hours such as evenings and weekends.

Learn more about test-driving a new job while accessing your EI or CRB benefits by working with ABL: reading this blog

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