Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance in the form of benefits for some workers. There are different types of benefits:

  • Regular benefits are usually for workers who have lost their job. However, workers qualify when they have an "interruption of earnings," so they may also qualify for benefits during lay-offs

  • Maternity/parental benefits are paid to individuals who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child or are caring for a new-born.

  • Compassionate Care benefits are paid to persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death.

  • Sickness benefits are for workers who are unable to work due to injury or sickness.


The law related to this program is called the Employment Insurance Act (2010). The EI system is administered by the federal government through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).


Workers qualify if they have worked a certain number of hours during a specific amount of time, called a qualifying period, and if they have not quit without "just cause" or lost their job "because of their misconduct." The required number of hours varies depending on the local unemployment rate however workers should apply even if they may not have enough hours as the rate may change and they may become eligible. The table of hours required can be obtained from the local Service Canada office.

There is one Service Canada offices in Hamilton:There are two Service Canada offices in Hamilton:

  • 22 Bay Street , Floor 1, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

How do I apply for Employment Insurance (EI)?

Workers can apply online, over the phone, or at their local Service Canada office:

Apply Online

Telephone: 1-800 206-7218
Service Canada: 1-800-622-6232

Once you have applied for EI, it usually takes 28 days from the date the HRSDC receives your application to begin collecting EI benefits. If HRSDC decides that you do not qualify for EI they will notify you by mail. You can appeal this decision. Below you will find the appeal process outlined.

What is the process for appealing a decision?



Our Clinic does provide service in this area. We can provide you with summary legal advice if you have questions or would like general advice on EI, the process, or your eligibility for benefits. We can assist you by appealing the decision of HRSDC or the Board of Referees. We can represent you at your appeal before the Board of Referees or Umpire if you meet our eligibility criteria. We also provide public legal education sessions to educate the public on Employment Insurance.

Keep in mind

You may appeal decisions made by HRSDC, for reasons such as:

  • EI benefits have been refused

  • Benefits received are to be repaid

  • A warning letter has been given or a penalty has been assessed


This site provides general information only, specific to Ontario, Canada. It is NOT legal advice. Laws, practices and policies change over time. The applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should get legal advice for your particular situation.

Please call us or a lawyer in your area for advice on your particular situation.

Algoma Community Legal Clinic

Queenscentre Building

477 Queen Street East, Suite 301

Sault Ste. Marie, ON  P6A 1Z5

Phone: 705-942-4900

Toll Free: 1-800-616-1109

Fax: 705-942-6894

Email: ‎algorecep@lao.on.ca

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Hours of Operation

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Friday 12:00-1:30 pm

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