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What plans can help me if I lose my job?

If it happens to you, you might be able get help from some of these workplace and government plans: 

  1. Severance pay: If you have worked at your job long enough, you may get some extra income called severance pay when you lose your job. You may get this money as a lump sum, or you may keep getting your normal pay for a set number of weeks. In some cases, the pay keeps coming until you get a new job. Some unions bargain for extra money to add to the income their members get from the government.
  2. Employee benefit plans: This includes plans like a health plan, dental plan, or insurance at work. These plans may continue for a time after you lose your job. 
  3. Vacation pay: If you have unused vacation days, your employer has to give you cash equal to that amount when you leave.
  4. Pension plan at work: You have a right to keep the money you saved, plus any money you made investing those savings. You may not get any cash back just yet. Instead, your money will be locked in a registered plan. You’ll get it when you retire. 

    You may have a right to pension money your employer contributed for you as well. It depends on how long you have been in the plan. With some plans, you may have to wait two years or more to be a full (vested) plan member. Check your plan rules to find out your status.
  5. Employment Insurance (EI):  If you lose your job through no fault of your own, EI gives you a base to keep going until you get a new job.

    Example: If you get laid off, you may receive about half of what you used to make, up to $413 a week. Low income families may get more. Usually, you get your first cheque within 28 days of filing a claim.

    Tip: The rules that set how much income you get from EI are complex. Don’t assume you’re covered. In Toronto, only about 22% of people working can get money from EI. Learn more about EI eligibility from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC): Employment Insurance Regular Benefits.
  6. Social assistance: If you don’t qualify for EI, or if you use up all your EI money, you can apply for social assistance. Plans vary from province to province. In Ontario, the program is called Ontario Works.