Applying for Employment Insurance (EI) in BC during the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 18 UPDATE: The Federal Government has announced supports for those who may not qualify for EI benefits.

This is only general information to help you get started and should not be considered official EI rules. For the most up-to-date information on rules and eligibility please refer to the Employment and Social Development website.

Due to a high volume of applications the EI website may be overloaded. Be patient and try again later.

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine. If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

For Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
  • There is a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support inquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
  • Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Step 1: Pick the type of applicant you are

Type 1. Out of work due to self quarantine. You do not have to be laid off but you must be able to say your employer or a medical professional asked that you stay home. You must also be unable to work from home to qualify.

Type 2. Out of work due to a COVID-19 workplace closure. You must have worked a combined total of 700 hours in the last year if you worked in Vancouver. This is all your workplaces combined.

Type 3. Those on quarantine that may finish their quarantine to find their workplace closed.

Step 2: Call the EI Hotline 

Type 1, Type 3
Call 1-833-381-2725. This number is for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 only. They will NOT process any other type of claim on this number. 

Type 2
If you can applying due to workplace closure you will apply for regular EI benefits. Call 1-800-206-7218.

  • Plan to be on hold for several hours.
  • Use the time on hold to prepare your information in the next steps.
  • Make sure you have your phone plugged in, on speaker, and somewhere you will be able to answer quickly when they pick up.

Step 3: Gather your information

Type 1, Type 2,Type 3

You will need the following information on hand when you fill out your EI application:

  • The first and last date of your employment
  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN). If your SIN begins with a 9, you also need to supply proof of your immigration status and work permit.
  • Your mother’s maiden name.
  • Your mailing and residential addresses, including the postal codes.
  • Your complete banking information to sign up for direct deposit, including the financial institution name, bank branch number, and account number. You can get this from your online bank account or a blank cheque.

  • Names, addresses (including postal codes), phone number for all your employers over the last 52 weeks
  • You need to find your pay stub or cheque for your HIGHEST earning two week period in the last 52 weeks. They must be two consecutive weeks. Go through your bank statements to find your cheque deposits if you don’t have your paystubs. They won’t ask for this now, but if your number is way off you may be audited.You may add the money you made from multiple employers together. Please list the amount you made BEFORE deductions (called your gross pay) such as taxes, medical insurance, vacation pay etc. You can not claim tips unless they are “controlled tips” as calculated as part of your gross pay. .

You will receive up to 55% of gross pay as your EI payment (up to a max of $573/week in Vancouver) For example, if you made $100 wk on paper, you should receive $55 per week on EI.

Step 4: Fill out the online EI application

Type 1, Type 2, Type 3

Submit your application online before contacting EI. This will help speed up processing your claim.

  • Submit your form online. Once submitted, you will be supplied with a confirmation number, please write it down as you’ll be asked for it later.
  • If you make any mistakes that you realize after submission, there is a number you can call to update your application, this number will be listed on the page after you submit.
  • Your employer is able to submit your Record of Employment (ROE) online, or if they will not, you can request a paper version from them and mail it. Your application will not be approved until your ROE is obtained by Services Canada.
  • You can also mail your application but that may slow down your claim
    Service Canada Center
    W-T Region
    P.o. box 245
    Edmonton AB
    T5J 2J1

*IMPORTANT* Selecting reason for unemployment on EI application: 

Type 1 & Type 3
Select ‘medical leave’ as reason for not working. This is the option that covers quarantine and people staying at home due to COVID-19 isolation. This will last for 14 days (time of standard isolation), and if you develop symptoms during this period of isolation, you may need to restart the clock. They are unsure currently if at that point you would need to get a note from a doctor, but currently the ‘medical note’ is waived for this isolation period so people stay at home.

Type 3
If you finish your time in quarantine to find your workplace is closed or unable to provide you with shifts, you can request your work email you a ‘layoff’ notice so you may update your EI type after your 2 wk isolation. You can not do this until your 14 day isolation ‘sick leave’ is over. You must call to change your EI claim type after 2 weeks. Toll free number : 1-833-381-2725

Type 2
If your workplace is closing due to COVID-19, ask your employer for a notice of layoff until work can restart. You may select reason for no work as ‘layoff’ (option 1) instead of ‘medical leave’, and do not have to reapply once quarantine is over.

Step 5: They finally answered your call! 

Type 1, Type 2Type 3

  • Be kind! These operators have had a very stressful time. Sometimes they are working with information that has only been released to them a few minutes earlier. Thank them for what they are doing!
  • They will ask you for your SIN number and some information such as your name and birth date to locate your EI application you just submitted online.
  • They will read you a statement and ask you for a yes or no answer if this applies to you. It essentially states that ‘I am currently out of work or in quarantine under the advisement of my doctor, a health care professional or by request of my employer.’ If you agree to this statement, the one week waiting period that is standard with new EI claims is waived.
  • If you do not agree to this statement, they will not process your claim any further and you will have to use the standard online EI form instead. If you disagree with this statement, you can not be paid EI for the first week of unemployment.

Step 6: Bi-weekly updates

Type 1, Type 2Type 3

  • A part of EI is supplying Services Canada with bi-weekly updates. This includes if your situation has changed, say you are no longer in quarantine  or your work has reopened. You can submit your updates on your My Services Canada page:
  • Bi-weekly reporting can also be called in at 1-800-531-7555.
  • You will be mailed a login number (digital ID) when your application is processed (make sure that ROE is submitted!). It may take up to 3 weeks to process due to overwhelming demand during this pandemic. If your 3 weeks has passed since they received your ROE and all parts of your application, give them a call back.

This is an ever changing situation and the government may change the EI rules at any time. Be sure to visit the Employment and Social Development site for the latest information.