Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for

Beaches-East York

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith

Your member of parliament for

Beaches-East York


Employment Insurance (EI) vs. CERB Explainer

Read the most up-to-date details for EI and related benefits here.

New Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

For workers who lost income due to COVID-19

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (replacing the care/support benefits previously announced on March 18th) will effectively create a short-term basic income: $2,000 per month for up to four months for those who have lost income as a result of COVID-19. This benefit will be available to regular employees, self-employed, and contract workers. This program will assist those who are otherwise ineligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The Emergency Response Benefit is not intended to replace Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. 
    • The benefit will be available to workers:
      • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
      • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits. If you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit. For example, if you are a student who had a job last year and were planning on working this summer you do not qualify for the benefit;
      • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
      • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
    • Based on Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement on April 6, the federal government is working on a solution to ensure people with partial earnings will be eligible for CERB.
      If you have lost substantially all of your income (such as a reduction in hours to 10 hours or less) and you are struggling to pay your bills, it makes sense for many people to apply this week as the government works on a solution. You may want to set any eligibility considerations/concerns aside and make sure your application is submitted now, so that you become eligible under any new changed criteria. Applications for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits since March 15 will be automatically moved to the government’s CERB program, a move that could see many EI beneficiaries get more money every week. Read below for more info.
    • The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.
    • Applications will open on April 6, 2020 at, and will be available through My CRA and My Service Canada. Payments should flow within 10 days.
    • Sign up for My CRA and My Service Canada online accounts now to receive the benefits as soon as they’re available. 
    • More information can be accessed on the federal government Backgrounder

For the most current information from our office regarding COVID-19 please see this post on

Regular EI Benefits

Regular benefits are made available to any individual who loses their job through no fault of their own (such as shortage of work, or layoffs) and are unable to find a job.

Individuals should apply for E.I. as soon as they stop working even if their Record of Employment (ROE) is not yet available. 

The federal government will automatically move applications received for employment insurance benefits since March 15 to the government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit program, a move that would see many EI beneficiaries get more money every week.

More info for employers on ROEs is available here: EI Record of Employment


Here is the criteria for eligibility:

  • were employed in insurable employment;
  • lost your job through no fault of your own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since last claim (see more below), whichever is shorter; and
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day.

In the Toronto region, the required number of insurable employment hours is 700.

Here is a link to the information you will need to complete an application, including your SIN and banking info.

The online EI application for regular benefits can be found here

For more information, or to see if you qualify, you can call Service Canada directly at 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232), or visit the Service Canada website. 

EI Sickness Benefits


EI sickness benefits are available for people who cannot work for medical reasons or your regular weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week. Again, you must have accumulated 700 hours of work in the preceding 52 weeks or since your last claim. 

Under the new rules, applicants will not need a medical certificate or Record of Employment and they will be paid for their first week.