You may be eligible for Employment Insurance (or EI) when your contract expires and if you do not have a new contract in place. EI eligibility is based on working a minimum number of hours, and varies from region-to-region and changes from month-to-month based on the Regional Rate of Unemployment. Likewise, the maximum number of weeks that you can collect EI for varies based on the same criteria. The region is based on where you reside, not where you work. For example, as of February 2015, if you live in Hamilton you would need to have worked at least 700 hours in the past 52 weeks and could collect benefits for a maximum of 36 weeks. For a full list of regions, please click here. In most cases, this means that only sessionals who have worked the equivalent of three 3.0 credit courses or Post-Doctoral Fellows will be eligible. In most cases, sessionals who have worked less than the equivalent of three 3.0 credit courses, and virtually all TAs, will not have worked enough hours to meet the eligibility requirements. More detailed information about EI eligibility and benefits can be found here.
The basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings. As of January 1, 2015, the maximum insurable earnings amount is $49,500. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $524 per week, though for many of our members, that will be considerably less.
In order for your EI application to be processed, you will need a Record of Employment (or ROE) from McMaster. They should be automatically uploaded to Service Canada within seven day after your contract expires. For sessional faculty, each 3.0 credit course should be credited with 238 hours on your ROE.
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