Caution: Although every effort is made to ensure that the information here is accurate, viewers should consult Service Canada's Website, which is the official source of information about Employment Insurance. Of particular interest is a section of the site entitled Employment Insurance (EI) and Teachers.

What Types of Benefits Are Available? Top of page

Regular Benefits

Regular benefits are available to teachers who have lost their job through no fault of their own, who are available and able to work, and who are unable to find work. To receive benefits, teachers must apply, must have paid EI premiums, must have been without work for at least seven consecutive days and must have worked a specified number of hours based on the unemployment rate in the area in which they live. Applicants for regular benefits must “actively seek employment” throughout a claim and keep records of their job search for EI audit purposes.

Special Benefits

There are four kinds of special EI benefits:

  1. Maternity benefits, payable to a maximum of 15 weeks
  2. Parental/adoption benefits, payable to a maximum of 35 weeks
  3. Sickness benefits, payable to a maximum of 15 weeks
  4. Compassionate care benefits, payable to a maximum of 26 weeks in a 52-week period

A special benefit period can interrupt a period of regular benefits. There are possible variations of benefit (such as combination of maternity, parental/adoption and sickness benefits). Contact Service Canada directly to determine qualification requirements for such a combination.

Maternity Benefits

Maternity benefits are available to biological or surrogate mothers, who are entitled to up to 15 weeks of benefits payable at any time (including nonteaching periods) during the period beginning 12 weeks before the expected date of birth and ending 17 weeks after the week in which the birth occurred. Benefits commence after the normal 1-week waiting period has been served. View the interactive video on this website to become informed about your individual situation. Teachers should contact an Association staff officer to discuss the most advantageous start date for their benefits and the advisability of waiving the waiting period to their circumstances. For many teachers, waiving the waiting period is not beneficial and can have negative effects.

Note that a mother who claims EI maternity benefits followed by EI parental benefits is not required to serve an additional waiting period before receiving parental benefits. She can also apply for both benefits at the same time.

Parental/Adoption Benefits

Biological, surrogate and adoptive parents can collect up to 35 weeks of benefits while they are caring for their newborn or adopted child. The benefits can be paid to the mother only or the father only, or (if both parents are eligible) be shared between them. If benefits are shared, there will be only one two-week waiting period and if the mother already served the waiting period with maternity benefits, no further waiting period is required for parental. Parental benefits may be claimed any time during the 78-week period following, in the case of a natural child, the birth of the child or, in the case of an adoption, the child’s placement at home. However, benefits are only paid for a total of 61 weeks (maternity and parental combined) but can be spread out over the 78-week period.

Parents can opt to take a reduced benefit for the longer period (for example, $320 per week X 61 weeks) instead of the regular $547 X 35 weeks. However, since the maximum amount is the same, it is more advantageous to take the regular EI over 35 weeks even if the teacher wants to take the full 62 weeks of leave.

Check directly with Service Canada concerning working while on claim.

To claim a parental benefit, teachers should submit an online application form, a Record of Employment, an adoption or birth certificate, and a written declaration of their intent to stay at home to care for the child.

Sickness Benefits

Teachers who, because of illness, are unable to earn regular pay may claim EI benefits for up to 15 weeks at any time during a benefit period. However, EI sickness benefits are available only after teachers have used up all benefits (such as cumulative sick leave and extended disability benefits [EDB]) to which they are entitled from their employer. If EDB benefits are not available immediately after the cumulative sick-leave entitlement has been exhausted, the teacher can claim EI sickness benefits for the intervening period. Claimants may use the last two weeks of their sick-leave entitlement as the waiting period for EI. If they intend to do so, they should apply for EI as soon as possible before their sick-leave entitlement expires.

To apply for EI sickness benefits, teachers should submit an online application form, a Record of Employment and a medical certificate.

Compassionate Care Benefits

This special benefit is available to individuals who must be away from work for up to 26 weeks to care for a critically ill family member who faces a significant risk of death within 52 weeks. Individuals who are unemployed and on regular EI may also be eligible for this type of benefit.

To qualify, claimants must (1) have accumulated 600 hours of insurable earnings in the preceding 52 weeks or since the start of a previous EI claim (if that claim started during the 52-week period) and (2) have experienced a decrease of more than 40 per cent in their regular weekly earnings from work.

Click here to find the list of individuals who are considered family members for the purposes of this benefit.

Compassionate care benefits can be shared with other family members, provided that the other members apply for and are eligible for these benefits. Only one waiting period needs to be served. If the claimant is currently receiving sick leave, the two-week waiting period may be waived.

When requesting compassionate care benefits, an applicant must provide a medical certificate that has been completed and signed by a medical practitioner authorized to treat the gravely ill family member. The claimant is responsible for paying any fees that the doctor may charge to produce a certificate.

A maximum of 26 weeks of compassionate care benefit is payable within the 52-week period that starts with the earlier of

  • the week the doctor signs the medical certificate;
  • the week the doctor examines the gravely ill family member; or
  • the week the family member became gravely ill, if the doctor can determine the date (for example, the date of the test results).

The benefits end when

  • 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits have been paid, or
  • the gravely ill family member dies or no longer requires care or support (benefits are paid to the end of the week), or
  • the 52-week period has expired.

How Does My Last Employment Status Affect My Eligibility for EI Benefits?Top of page

Teachers on Continuing Contract

Although teachers on continuing contracts (that is, contracts that remain in force from year to year) experience an interruption of work during July and August, they are prevented by EI legislation from receiving benefits unless they are on maternity or parental leave. Teachers whose continuing contracts are terminated at the end of June may apply for benefits during the months of July and August provided that they maintain an active job search. This should be an active search for non-teaching jobs.

Service Canada defines being “ready, willing and capable of working each day” as follows:

To receive EI benefits, you need to show that you are ready, willing, and capable of working each day.

Being “ready to work” means that your conduct shows your desire to work, but you have been unable to find a job.

Being “willing to work” means that you are actively seeking and willing to accept all types of work that your abilities, skills, training, or experience enable you to do. The wages you are expected to accept may vary depending on your past usage of the EI program and the length of your unemployment.

Being “capable of working” means that you are, first of all, able to work. Ability to work is characterized by the physical and mental strength required to perform the duties of an employment under the same conditions as workers who usually do that type of work.

In September, these teachers may resume searching for a teaching position and continue to qualify for EI benefits. However, after a “reasonable” period, the EI Commission will expect them to look for work in other fields.

Teachers on Temporary, Interim or Probationary Contracts

A ruling by Service Canada and confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, that teachers on term contracts who have obtained a new teaching contract for the fall semester are not eligible for EI benefits during the summer months. Also, teachers who have term contracts that run through the summer into a new school year are not eligible for EI benefits because they are considered employed.

Substitute Teachers

Substitute teachers may qualify for EI benefits if they have accumulated the required number of hours of insurable employment either during the 52 weeks preceding their application for EI benefits or since the start of their last EI claim. What is important is the total number of hours worked during the period, not the amount worked for any one employer. Teachers who have concerns about whether they have accumulated enough hours should contact Service Canada directly.

Contact Service Canada directly or refer to the website for information about working while on claim.

Retired Teachers

Retired teachers are generally ineligible for EI benefits because they are (1) no longer in the labour force and (2) are collecting a pension. However, retirees who, before accessing their pension, undertake employment that does not require them to contribute to the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund may become eligible for EI benefits upon leaving their postretirement employment, provided that they have the required number of insurable hours and that they maintain an active job search. Note that pension earned must be reported and will be deducted from the weekly EI benefit.

Teachers Who Accept a Voluntary Severance Plan

In rare instances, teachers taking voluntary severance may be eligible for EI benefits. If you are receiving a severance package, the full amount of your severance pay will be shown on your Record of Employment, and it will delay your ability to receive EI benefits. Nonetheless, you should apply for benefits as soon as possible after your last day of work or you may lose your eligibility. EI will reject claims that are not received within the four-week period following your last day of work. If you are retiring, your ability to receive EI benefit will be offset by your ATRF pension.

The EI Commission considers severance and Early Retirement Incentive Plan (ERIP) payments as earnings for the purpose of determining eligibility for EI benefits and allocates them over a period of several months, as if they were the teacher’s regular salary. There may be circumstances where a claim can qualify for benefit. Before accepting an ERIP, contact Service Canada to determine whether their circumstances will qualify them for benefits.

Teachers Who Quit or Are Fired

EI exists primarily to assist people who have lost their employment due to circumstances beyond their control. Therefore, teachers who are fired for misconduct or who voluntarily leave their employment will, in most cases, be deemed ineligible for EI benefits. Contact EI directly if you have questions about “just cause” and whether you are eligible for EI benefits.

How Much Do I Pay in Premiums?Top of page

Like other employees, teachers currently pay a premium of $0.0163 on each dollar of the first $51,700 they earn during a year. The annual maximum premium is $858.22.

How Long Do I Need to Wait Before Receiving Benefits? Top of page

There is usually a waiting period for benefits, which is calculated from the Sunday of the week during which the application was processed. No benefits are paid during this period. 

How Many Hours Do I Need to Have Worked to Qualify for EI Benefits?Top of page

Insurable hours are the number of hours a teacher has worked for which he or she has paid a premium. The number of insurable hours is reported on the Record of Employment that the board issues to teachers when they leave their employment. The number of hours required to qualify for regular EI varies by geographic region and is adjusted monthly. It is based on the unemployment rate in that region. Check the Service Canada website for more information.

To qualify for special benefits (maternity, parenting/adoption and sickness), claimants must have accumulated at least 600 insurable hours in the previous 52 weeks. The requirement is the same for all claimants, regardless of how long they have been in the work force.

How Long Can I Receive EI Benefits?Top of page

The maximum period of receipt may also depend on the geographic region. Check directly with Service Canada for this information.

Important: To continue to collect EI benefits, teachers claiming regular EI benefits must conduct an active job search. A job search during the nonteaching period (July and August) must be outside the field of education and, if the teacher plans to return to teaching in the fall, may be restricted to jobs of a temporary or seasonal nature.

What Are the Tax Implications of Receiving EI Benefits?Top of page

Service Canada will issue T4E slips to all EI recipients because Canada Revenue Agency regards EI benefits as income. However, EI premiums paid while employed are deductible and will offset the income slightly.

As a result of reporting EI benefits as income, there has been occasion when higher-income earners, depending on their claim history, are required to repay a portion of their EI benefits. Consult Service Canada’s website for more information.

Where Can I Get More Information? Top of page

Additional information about EI benefits can be found on Service Canada’s Website.