**please note this is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please consult Service Canada – who is the final decision maker – for any questions or concerns**

You are likely to be eligible for Employment Insurance (or EI) when your contract expires and if you do not have a new contract in place and are remaining in Canada. Because most postdocs work full-time, you easily meet the hours threshold in place that is needed to qualify for EI.

You can apply for EI after what is called an ‘interruption in earnings’ occurs. Service Canada is more concerned with when you are paid, as opposed to when you work. The ‘interruption in earnings’ occurs following your final pay as an employee at McMaster.
McMaster will need to issue a ROE (or Record of Employment) with 7 days thereafter. This is done automatically and uploaded to Service Canada. You will need to formally apply for EI, and it should be processed without issue once the ROE is uploaded. If you haven’t been on EI in the past 52 weeks, you will need to serve a one week ‘withholding period’ and the first EI money will be thereafter. If you have already been on EI, there shouldn’t be a withholding period.

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. While the hours threshold varies from month-to-month, if you live in Hamilton you normally 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 over a 52 week period 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, 2024, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $63,200. This means that you can (but may not) receive a maximum amount of $668 per week.

In order for your EI application to be processed, you will need a Record of Employment (or ROE) from McMaster. For both Sessionals and Postdocs, they should be automatically uploaded to Service Canada within seven days after your contract expires. Postdoctoral Fellows who work normal hours are credited with 35 hours of work per week.  Postdoctoral Fellows who also work as Unit 2 (Sessional Faculty members) are also credited with 238 hours per 3-unit course on their ROEs.

If you need more information, please feel free to contact us at 905 525 9140 x24056 or brad@cupe3906.org

To apply for EI (through Service Canada), please go to: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html