TORONTO, May 24, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed today's announcement by Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley regarding changes to Canada's Employment Insurance (EI) system.
"Since the recession, skills and labour shortages have re-emerged as a major concern for Canada's small business community," said CFIB president Catherine Swift. "We believe the changes to defining suitable employment, based on how frequently EI is claimed, will help to remove disincentives to work and hopefully make it easier for small firms to find the people they need."
In the first quarter of 2012, 46 per cent of small firms reported difficulties in finding the staff they need to put their products or services to market. "The shortage of qualified labour is a problem for small businesses across the country - not just in Western Canada," Swift added. "While the concern is highest in Saskatchewan, over half of our members in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec reported problems finding people."
CFIB will monitor the implementation of these changes closely to ensure they have a meaningful impact in encouraging EI recipients back to work while reflecting the realities of seasonal industries. The fact that many of these changes will be left to the discretion of EI staff to determine if claimants are following the rules may prove to be problematic.
"Under the current system, 22 per cent of small business owners said they had difficulty hiring as potential workers would rather stay on EI benefits and another 16 per cent said they had been asked by an employee to lay them off to allow them to collect benefits," said Swift. "Employers agree that EI should be there for those who lose a job through no fault of their own, but do not accept that the system should be used as some form of paid vacation or ongoing lifestyle for those who choose not to work. Today's changes are a small step to return some balance to the system."
As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.
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For further information or to arrange an interview with Catherine Swift, contact Meghan Carrington at 416-222-8022 or by email at [email protected].