Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefit

The federal Employment Insurance (EI) program as outlined in the Unemployment Insurance Act (1971) pay benefits to employees who are laid off due to a work shortage, or who are unable to work due to sickness, a non-occupational accident, pregnancy, parental leave, adoption of a child or quarantine.

Funding  (Updated for 2020)

The EI program is funded by a payroll tax on employees and employers.

  • The employee pays 1.58% on the first $56,300 of earnings and the employer pays 1.4 times that amount.

Employers who provide an approved wage loss replacement plan receive a modest rate reduction (15.7%) that they must share with employees.

The federal government pays the cost of special benefits for fishermen and the cost of training and job creation programs.


Employment Insurance (EI) provides Sickness Benefits to individuals who:

  • are unable to work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine,
  • but who would otherwise be available for work if not for their incapacity due to a medical reason certified by an approved medical practitioner,
  • and have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment since the start of their last EI claim (maximum 52 weeks).

Benefit Period

EI benefits are paid for a maximum of 15 weeks after a 1 week waiting period.

Benefit Amount  (Updated for 2020)

The EI benefit amount is 55% of average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount which is updated annually.

  • The maximum benefit amount during 2020 is $537 per week. In addition, a Family Supplement is provided to low income claimants.


  • The employer's premiums are a tax deductible expense to the employer and are not added to the employee's taxable income.
  • The employee's premiums are deductible from taxable income.
  • EI benefit payments are taxable income.
  • The EI benefit repayment provision does not apply to sickness benefits.