Improving Employment Insurance for the Middle Class in Saskatchewan

SASKATOON, March 31, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Canada's Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, outlined today a series of improvements to the Employment Insurance (EI) program that will help middle-class Canadians and those who wish to join them, while increasing investments for skills and training.

Minister Mihychuk made the remarks at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Saskatoon, noting that changes made in Budget 2016 will help the EI program to adapt to changing labour market realities across the country.

As outlined in Budget 2016, national changes to the EI program that will benefit Canadians in Saskatchewan and across the country include:

  • eliminating barriers that prevented Canadians, especially youth and newcomers, from accessing EI;
  • reducing the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week, effective January 1, 2017;
  • extending and expanding the current EI Working While on Claim pilot project until August 2018. This will help EI claimants stay connected to the labour market and ensure that they benefit from accepting work;
  • reversing the 2012 EI changes that forced workers to travel far from home for lower-paying jobs;
  • doubling the length of Work-Sharing agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks across Canada to help businesses retain skilled employees. This measure will help employers retain skilled employees and avoid the cost of recruitment and training. Employees can continue to work and maintain their skills while supplementing their wages with EI benefits for the days they are not working;
  • improving service quality by investing $92 million over two years. This will help hire more EI call centre agents, improve employment searches and lead to other service enhancements; and
  • reducing EI premiums for workers and businesses to an expected $1.61 by 2017. Premiums are currently set at $1.88.

In addition to these national improvements, we recognize the need to help regions that have experienced a sudden, sharp and sustained increase in unemployment. We will provide:

  • an additional 20 weeks of regular EI benefits to long-tenured workers in 12 affected regions, including Northern Saskatchewan, up to a maximum of 70 weeks. Additionally, the duration of EI regular benefits will be extended by 5 weeks, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, for all eligible claimants.

We will continue to monitor the employment situation in these and all regions across Canada, and to work with provincial and territorial governments to support job training and workforce development.


"We are delivering on our campaign promise to help middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join them. We are taking concrete action to help Canadians get back to work here in Saskatchewan and across Canada."
– The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Quick Facts

  • The elimination of the new entrant and re-entrant rules is expected to benefit approximately 50,000 EI claimants across Canada.
  • Reducing the waiting period will provide a larger first EI payment and ease the financial pressure on Canadians when they need it most.
  • To help claimants return to work, the Government will also continue to strengthen and integrate online tools such as Job Bank and Job Match.
  • Extending the duration of EI benefits within the identified regions will help provide approximately 170,000 workers with financial stability until they find new employment.
  • Nationally, some 33,000 claimants could benefit by the extension of the Work-Sharing agreements.


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Budget 2016

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SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: John O'Leary, Director of Communications, Office of the Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, P.C., M.P., Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, 819-654-5611; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,

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