So, what does this mean for Canadians – specifically, personal injury claimants?
In this blog post, we’ll cover the Government of Canada’s changes to EI benefits in Ontario (and the rest of Canada) and what personal injury claimants need to know about these benefits.
The Changes to Canada’s EI Sickness Benefits
As of December 18, 2022, EI sickness benefits in Ontario have been extended from 15 weeks to 26 weeks. This means that if you are sick or injured, you will be able to receive up to 26 weeks of EI benefits.
Under Canada’s Employment Insurance Act, S.C. 1996, c. 23, Canadians are entitled to sickness benefits if they are sick or injured and require time to recover. These benefits cover 55% of a sick or injured person’s average weekly insurable earnings to a maximum of $638.00 per week.
Additionally, the maximum length of unpaid medical leave available to federal private-sector employees in Canada has been extended to 27 weeks (from 17 weeks). This change will come into effect on the same day.
Why Were Changes Brought for Canada’s EI Sickness Benefits?
According to Employment and Social Development Canada, these changes were brought into play to support Canadians struggling with long-term illnesses and disabilities. They will also help provide additional time and flexibility for recovering Canadians.
These changes may not be the last we’ll see of amendments to the EI system, however. The Canadian government is in the middle of a two-year consultation project (beginning in August of 2021) regarding EI reform to “build an EI program that is more flexible, fairer and better suited to the needs of today’s workers.”
What Personal Injury Claimants Should Know About EI in Ontario
EI benefits are commonly relied on to provide relief for personal injury claimants. If you are unable to work due to illness or injury and can prove that you are unable to work for medical reasons, you can claim EI benefits.
Below, we’ll cover how EI benefits work and frequently asked questions regarding EI in Ontario.
What Do EI Benefits Cover?
EI sickness benefits are designed to compensate Canadian employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury. To that end, the program is designed to replace income – it does not compensate Canadians for medical treatment or the injuries themselves.
How Do I Know Whether I Qualify for EI?
To qualify for EI benefits, you will need to prove that:
- You are unable to work for medical reasons;
- You have at least 600 insured hours of work in the past 52 weeks;
- Your regular weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week; and
- You would be able to work “but-for” your medical condition.
To establish that you are unable to work for medical reasons, you can obtain a medical certificate from a medical practitioner.
How Do I Apply for EI?
You can apply for EI benefits online.
When applying for EI benefits, be prepared to provide the following:
- The names and addresses of any employers you have worked for in the past year.
- The dates you were employed and your reason for leaving each employer (if applicable).
- Your home address and mailing address.
- Your social insurance number.
- One of your parents’ last names.
- Your banking information (for direct deposit).
- A medical certificate signed by a medical practitioner.
- Your records of employment.
If you do not want to apply online, you can also mail your application or drop it off at a Service Canada Centre.
Can I Appeal an EI Eligibility Decision?
If you are denied EI benefits in Ontario or are otherwise dissatisfied with a decision, you can ask for a reconsideration. To request a reconsideration, you must complete an online request and submit your application within 30 days after the date you received a decision from Service Canada.
Are EI Benefits Taxable?
Bear in mind that EI benefits are taxable, meaning that applicable provincial and federal taxes will be deducted from your EI payments.
Are Other Benefits Available for My Personal Injury Claim?
There are several benefits available to injured individuals. For example, you may be entitled to sick leave or short-term and long-term disability benefits through your employer. You may also be entitled to benefits through the Canada Pension Plan or the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule also provides benefits for lost income. Under a standard insurance policy, you may be qualified to be paid at 70% of your gross income to a maximum of $400 per week. Note that you are entitled to these benefits even if you are also claiming EI benefits.
For more information on EI in Ontario and other accident benefits, review our blog post, Where Should I Look for Benefits if I Am Injured and Unable to Work? and The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule – What is Covered?
Will Applying for EI Benefits Affect My Personal Injury Settlement?
EI benefits are available to sick and injured Canadians – therefore, applying for EI benefits should not impact your personal injury claim. As an injured person, you are entitled to these benefits to help ease the burden of being unable to work while you recover.
We previously wrote about whether employment insurance sickness benefits are deductible from income replacement benefits as “gross employment income”. In the case discussed, the claimant and insurer disagreed about whether the claimant’s claimed EI benefits were deductible from income replacement benefits.
The case was appealed, and in September of 2022, the Ontario Divisional Court determined that EI sickness benefits are deductible from Ontario’s income replacement benefits under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, O Reg 34/10. This means that if you receive both accident benefits and EI benefits in Ontario, your EI benefits will be included in your gross employment income and deducted from your income replacement benefits, otherwise payable.
Can I Participate in the EI Consultation Program?
The EI consultation program is now closed – however, the Government of Canada is continuing work on the program. During the most recent round of consultations, the government focused on the adequacy of benefits and ensuring the ongoing stability of the EI program. For more information on the consultation process, visit Help us build a better EI program.
Contact the Knowledgeable Lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP in Ottawa, Cornwall, Kingston & North Bay
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our personal injury lawyers believe in ensuring everyone’s equal rights are respected. If you have questions regarding benefits or believe you are entitled to various benefits and are being turned down, you deserve to know the truth.
Tierney Stauffer LLP has been a trusted fixture in the Ottawa legal community since 1982, and we have since grown, expanding to the cities of Cornwall, Kingston, and North Bay. We have dedicated ourselves to providing exceptional legal representation to clients in a wide variety of practice areas, with a particular focus on personal injury law.