EI General Division: How to prepare for your hearing
The information on this page is also available in a visual pamphlet.
Choose your type of hearing
On the Notice of Appeal form you send us, you choose the type of hearing you want.
There are 4 types of hearing at the General Division:
- videoconference on a personal device
- videoconference at a Service Canada Centre
- in-person at a Service Canada Centre
Some types of hearing aren’t available because of COVID-19.
No one type of hearing is better than another. Social Security Tribunal (SST) members treat all types of hearings equally. You’ll have the same opportunities to talk and ask questions at any type of hearing.
We’ll do our best to give you the type of hearing you say you want on your Notice of Appeal form.
We’ll send you a Notice of Hearing in writing. If you have a representative, they’ll get it too. A Notice of Hearing tells you details about your hearing. For example, it says the type of hearing and when and where the hearing is.
Usually, we’ll give you a teleconference hearing if you don’t tell us the type of hearing you want on your Notice of Appeal form.
Here’s what happens for each type of hearing:
- We’ll send you the numbers you need.
- Dial the phone number 10 minutes before your hearing.
- Listen to the prompts.
- Enter the teleconference ID number.
- Enter the teleconference security code number.
- Wait on the line until the member speaks.
Videoconference on a personal device
- Use a device (smartphone, tablet, or computer).
- Make sure the device is fully charged.
- You choose where to participate.
- We’ll send you a link to use Zoom.
- Connect 10 minutes before your hearing.
Videoconference at a Service Canada Centre
- Go to the Service Canada Centre on your Notice of Hearing.
- Arrive 30 minutes early.
- Service Canada staff will
- show you to the right room
- explain the videoconference
- The member will be on the screen at the scheduled time.
In-person at a Service Canada Centre
- Go to a Service Canada Centre.
- Arrive 30 minutes early.
- Service Canada staff will show you to the right room.
- The member will join you there.
Read the documents we send you
We’ll send you copies of all the documents in your appeal file. You should read them and keep them together.
The SST member will look at them to help them decide your appeal.
Have the documents with you at the hearing. It’s your responsibility to keep track of the documents we send you and to bring the necessary documents to the hearing.
Let us know if you need special arrangements or interpretation
During your appeal process, you can communicate with us in English or French. Contact us as soon as you receive your Notice of Hearing if you have limited English or French skills. We can provide an interpreter at no cost to you for the hearing.
Let us know if you want other people at your hearing
An interpreter will be there too, if you asked for one.
Hearings are open to the public. Other people may observe your hearing. But each case is different. All or part of a hearing can be held in private if the member thinks it’s necessary.
You can ask the member to close off all or part of your hearing to the public. You need to have good reasons for this. The member will consider those reasons. Read about open justice and privacy at the SST.
Find out what a hearing is like
How formal is a hearing?
Hearings are informal. They’re a conversation between the member and the parties. The SST isn’t a court. We try to make the process a simple, informal conversation.
The member will guide you through the hearing.
The member will tell you what to call them. We don’t use the title “Your Honour.”
We’ll address you with “Mr.” or “Ms.” unless you say otherwise. Let us know if you want us to use another pronoun or form of address.
Who will be there?
Usually, just the parties involved in the appeal and 1 member will be there.
You’re a party. If you have a representative, they’ll be there too.
The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) is also a party. It may send a representative.
Other people who could be there include:
What if you need a break?
Ask the member if you need a break. Breaks are flexible.
You can have food and drink with you.
How long is the hearing?
Hearings vary in length. We schedule 90 minutes for a hearing. It’s rare that you need 90 minutes for a hearing. Most hearings are less than 1 hour.
We schedule 2 hours for a hearing if you need an interpreter because interpreting takes more time.
Change the date of your hearing if you need to
You can ask to reschedule your hearing if the date or time doesn’t work for you. This may delay your hearing quite a bit.
How you reschedule depends on when you got your Notice of Hearing:
You got your Notice of Hearing within the last 2 days
Call us. We can reschedule the hearing over the phone if you got your Notice of Hearing within the last 2 business days.
We’ll work with you to set a new hearing date. Usually, we can change your hearing date only once.
You got your Notice of Hearing more than 2 days ago or you want to change your hearing date a second time
Explain in detail why you can’t be at the hearing set in your Notice of Hearing. The member will decide whether we can reschedule the hearing.
This is called “asking for an adjournment.” You’re asking the member to adjourn (change) the hearing to another date.
If the member says they’ll adjourn the hearing, we’ll work with you to set a new hearing date.
If the member says they won’t adjourn the hearing, we won’t change the date. The hearing will be at the date and time in your Notice of Hearing.
After the first adjournment, the rules for getting another adjournment become stricter. You have to show that there are exceptional circumstances for you to need another adjournment. For example, you’re sick and you have a doctor’s report to show it.