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EI Self employed - COVID 19 Economic response

Does anyone have details of applying EI self-employed when the client didn’t elect to pay in the past? Can the client elect for 2019 while the wait time is waived?

Once someone elects to pay they are in for life is my understanding of the program… For what they would get a benefit vs how much they would pay in would it be worth it??


The “wait time” (1 week holdback, wait period, deductible) is only waived for EI applicants who are sick, self quarantined, or forced to stay at home to care for children. This type of claim (Reason D - illness or injury) carries a maximum duration of 15 weeks, and in the case of a self imposed quarantine, is likely only payable for 2 weeks; unless a doctor’s note is given suggesting the quarantine period needs to be longer. In other cases (actual illness) a doctor’s note is not required. In typical government fashion, the waiver of the 1 waiting period is not automatic but must be specifically requested by the claimant by phoning 1-833-381-2725 approximately 2 days after submitting their claim.

If your self employed person (who has never paid into EI) actually has Covid-19 or is in Self Quarantine then it might be best to wait until April, when the Emergency Care Benefit (up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks) becomes available to those who are self employed, or workers who do not qualify for EI.

I’m not particularly paranoid… but remember that by filing an illness claim and phoning the 1-833-381-2725 number to request the waiver of wait period will provide very accurate details on who may have the virus and who is self isolating…

Oh… and even though the “wait period” has been waived for these claimants… with 500,000 claims filed last week expect very long delays or “wait times” before money actually flows to the claimant.

Oh, and anyone who has been laid off because their employer was forced to close do not qualify for the waiver of the waiting period.

Great information. Thanks
We have been told by a service Canada rep on the phone, that if you are applying for regular benefits (due to layoff), the requirement to be “actively looking for employment” still has to be followed. Does anyone know if this is being waived? Would be horrible for my small business clients if their employees had to take work elsewhere and not come back to work.
Thanks in advance for any guidance.

Prime Minister Trudeau: “To the people of Canada… in an effort to slow down the spread of this virus I can’t stress how important it is for everyone to remain at home. I don’t want to impose martial law today, but if people won’t listen, nothing is off the table.”

Service Canada Rep: “If you are laid off because your employer was forced to close, you still need to be actively out there looking for work or else no $$$ for you”

I guess not everyone’s on the same page… :slightly_smiling_face:

Considering half a million people were laid off last week… and another million slated for this week, I don’t think new employment opportunities will be beating down the doors of laid off claimants.


I would not go there - I would advise against trying to claim unless it is a female that is expecting to have several pregnancies in the next few years. As pointed out earlier, it is easy enough to opt in but impossible to opt out.

Self employed would only qualify in very limited circumstances, only going forward.

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