Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: July 13, 2022


All Employment Insurance (EI) benefits received during the reference period, before income tax deductions. It includes benefits for unemployment, sickness, maternity, paternity, adoption, compassionate care, work sharing, retraining, and benefits to self‑employed fishers received under the federal EI Program or the Québec parental insurance plan.

For the 2021 Census, this includes enhancements to the EI benefits in 2020 in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

For the 2021 Census, the reference period for income data is the calendar year 2020, unless otherwise specified.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (100% data); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, refer to Appendix 2.1.

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Variable derived based on administrative tax and benefit records received from the Canada Revenue Agency.


Positive dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

See also income sources and the detailed definitions for each of the components: Employment Insurance (EI) - regular benefits and Employment Insurance (EI) - other benefits.

See also COVID‑19 - Emergency and recovery benefits.

For more information, please refer to Appendix 2.4 Components of income in 2020.

The amount to be repaid based on net income when filing a tax return is excluded.

The Québec parental insurance plan (QPIP) was introduced in January 2006 to cover maternity, parental, adoption and compassionate care benefits for workers in Quebec. Most of these benefits were previously provided under the federal Employment Insurance (EI) Program. Participation in QPIP is mandatory for both employed and self‑employed workers in Quebec.

Certain segments of self‑employed workers are eligible to participate in the portion of the federal EI Program that provides special benefits, such as sickness, maternity, parental, adoption and compassionate care benefits. Unlike QPIP, participation in the federal program is voluntary for self‑employed workers.

For the 2021 Census, EI benefits are also available for the reference year 2019 to provide baseline information to assess the economic impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Income for 2019 is presented in 2020 constant dollars.

For more information about COVID‑19 benefits, data collection method, coverage, reference period, concepts, data quality and intercensal comparability of the income data, please refer to the Income Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.


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