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How to File for Employment Insurance in Ontario

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Employment insurance in Canada is a federal program and is administered in Ontario, as in all provinces, by the government of Canada. Eligibility rules and the guidelines for applying in Ontario are the same as in the rest of the country. The term "employment insurance" is the Canadian equivalent of what U.S. residents typically call "unemployment insurance."

In order to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, you must have not worked for at least the prior seven days consecutively. You can not get benefits if you quit your job without an acceptable reason or if you were fired from your position due to your misconduct.

You must also have worked a certain number of hours during the "qualifying period" prior to applying for benefits. The general qualifying period is 52 weeks prior to applying for unemployment insurance. This period can be extended to 104 weeks if there are extenuating circumstances such as a documented illness, incarceration or employment related education. During this period of time you must have worked a minimum amount of hours as set by the government. Usually this must be between 420 hours and 910 hours of work during that 52-week qualifying period, depending on the unemployment rate in your economic region. Ontario is divided into several regions as set by the federal government.

Make sure that you have the needed documents to apply. You will require your Social Insurance number, your record of employment and personal identification issued by the government such as a birth certificate, driver's license or passport. You will also be required to show your complete banking information and a detailed statement of facts regarding your employment history during the qualifying period.

Once you provide a staff member with all of your documents, Service Canada will process your claim and you should receive your first payment within 28 days. There is a two-week waiting period at the beginning of your claim. It is expected you will survive on severance pay or vacation wages that you received upon your termination.

You can receive regular unemployment insurance in Ontario for 19 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks. In order to continue receiving your benefits, you must complete a form online, by telephone or through the mail that attests that you actively looked for work during that week. You must continue to fill out these reports once every two weeks for the duration of your claim. You will receive all the information and a benefits statement form through the mail within the first few weeks after applying for insurance benefits. This package will include step-by-step instructions for each method of completing your statement and all other pertinent information.

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