With COVID-19 reaching pandemic status, Canada has begun to shut down services including bars, restaurants, and non-essential retailers. B.C. is no exception, and because of this, many residents are finding themselves unemployed for the foreseeable future. Since losing your job due to COVID-19 is an uncontrollable loss of employment, you may be eligible to apply for employment insurance in B.C. Here’s a simplified way to determine if you’re eligible and how to apply.\nBefore you even start applying for EI, you will need a couple things, including your SIN number, mother’s maiden name, your mailing address, employer's names, the address and dates of employment, as well as the reason you were laid off.\nYou will also need the dates and earnings for each of your highest-paid weeks in the last 52 weeks.\nYou may also have to provide info on the salary amount you received before deductions for the last week you worked, in addition to any other amount received, such as vacation pay.\nSince EI can be credited to your bank account through direct deposit, be sure to have your banking information ready.\nIt is important to have all your information in front of you when applying, to make things easier and to ensure the website does not time out.\nThe first thing you will need to do is determine if you’re eligible to claim EI benefits.\nThe government of Canada website states that employment insurance is available to anyone who lost a job through no fault of their own. That includes COVID-19 layoffs.\nAs soon as you stop working, you are eligible to apply for benefits, even if you have not received your Record of Employment.\nWe recommend applying for EI as soon as possible, as delaying your claim for more than four weeks after your last day of work could result in loss of benefits altogether.\nFor regular benefits, there are some eligibility requirements, including losing your job through no fault of your own; previously being employed by an insurable employer; going without work or pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks; and having worked the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks, or since your last EI claim.\nIf you have a unique work situation, no worries. The government of there are specific EI information links for teachers, farmers, fishers, self-employed people, Canadian Force Members and workers, and residents living outside of Canada.\nIf you voluntarily left the job, were dismissed for misconduct, or are unemployed because you are directly participating in a labour dispute such as a strike, you are not eligible for benefits.\nThe government of Canada's website states that hours of insurable employment to calculate your benefit cheque must have been accumulated during the qualifying period.\nThis qualifying period will be the shorter one of either the 52-week period immediately before the start date of your EI claim or "if you applied for benefits earlier and your application was approved in the last 52 weeks."\nOnce you have determined that you are eligible and have all your information, you can visit the government Canada website to apply. On average, it takes about 60 minutes to complete online.\nAlesha Ma, a Kelowna native who recently lost her job due to COVID-19 closures, has told Narcity that, in her experience, the website has been prone to crashes due to the influx of people applying.\nSo far, it crashed for Ma three times while she was applying. Her biggest suggestion is to keep trying as connection cuts in and out.\nTelephone lines are also busy. There is a current wait time posted on the website for general inquiries — however, according to the voicemail of the EI helpline, the best thing to do is apply before calling.\nOnce you get through, there is a step-by-step process that will help guide you through the application. Don’t worry, detailed instructions are provided.\nWhen the application is put through and analyzed, regular benefits should be received within 28 days of submission.\nFollowing your first deposit, you will then need to complete bi-weekly reports proving you’re still eligible for benefits.\nThis is important, because failing to do so will result in a loss of benefits.\nIn order to keep receiving payments, you must be ready, willing, and capable to work each day and actively looking for employment.\nWe suggest keeping a written record of prospective employers you contact, including if and when they contacted you.\nEI can end for a number of reasons, including if you received benefits for all the weeks you were entitled to, if you didn't fill out the bi-weekly reports, if the payment timeframe ends, or if you request to terminate your claim.\nIf you happen to get a job during your payment claim, you will need to disclose that information in the bi-weekly report in order to stop or adjust the benefits.\nThe amount of money received will be different for each person. For the majority of people, the government of Canada has calculated EI benefits as 55% of your average weekly earnings.\nAs of January 1 of this year, the maximum monetary value you could receive per week was $573.\nOnce you have submitted an application, you could obtain an EI cheque for up to a maximum of 45 weeks.\nThe My Service Canada Account on the government of Canada website is a page you will want to bookmark on your computer.\nHere, you can access all your EI information, as well as sign up for direct deposit, see payment details, view copies of your T4E tax slips, as well as access links two help you find jobs.\nYou will also fill out your bi-weekly reports on there.\nDon’t be discouraged if the process takes some time. There are tons of people just like you trying to access the website.\nThe best thing to do is to stay online and keep trying. If you get bored while waiting to apply, you can always check out the live cameras on the Vancouver Aquarium website.\nThose otters are bound to keep you entertained.