SHEDIAC, NB, March 30, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Dominic Leblanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for Beauséjour, today announced a series of improvements to the Employment Insurance (EI) system that will help middle class Canadians – and those working hard to join them – while also easing the burden on those affected by recent layoffs.
Mr. Leblanc made the announcement today in Shediac, and noted that changes made in Budget 2016 will help more Canadians access EI when they need it, improve service delivery, and ensure the program adapts to the labour market realities across the country.
The Government of Canada is also sensitive to the regions hardest-hit by recent economic challenges, and will implement immediate measures to assist workers and employers in affected regions.
As outlined in Budget 2016, changes to the EI program include measures to:
- eliminate the EI eligibility requirements that restrict access for new entrants and re-entrants to the labour market, which will help an estimated 50,000 more Canadians access EI, when they need it;
- reduce the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week, effective January 1, 2017;
- extend and expand the current EI Working While on Claim pilot project until August 2018. This will give Canadians greater flexibility as they return to work, help them stay connected to the labour market, and ensure that they benefit from accepting work.
- reverse the changes to EI – introduced in 2012 – that made some Canadians accept lower paying jobs, farther away from home;
- meet the increased demand for EI claims processing and offer better support to Canadians as they search for new employment through proposed investments of $19 million in 2016-17;
- improve access to EI Call Centres, through proposed investments of $73 million over two years, starting in 2016-17. For example, increasing the number of agents will reduce waiting times so that Canadians can access information and support they need to receive their EI benefits; and
- promote compliance with program rules through proposed investments of $21 million over 3 years, starting in 2016-17, to strengthen the integrity of the EI program.
The Government of Canada will also assist workers and employers who have been hard hit by the recent economic downturn in certain parts of the country. These include measures to:
- extend EI benefits in 12 EI economic regions that have experienced a sharp and sustained increase in the local unemployment rate without showing significant signs of recovery. For all eligible claimants in these 12 regions, this change will provide an additional 5 weeks of EI regular benefits, up to a maximum of 50 weeks. An additional 20 weeks of EI regular benefits will also be available to long-tenured workers in the affected 12 regions, up to a maximum of 70 weeks; and
- extend the Work-Sharing agreements from a maximum of 38 weeks to 76 weeks across Canada. 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 time they are not working.
The Government will continue to monitor the situation in these and other regions.
"The Government has listened to Canadians over the past several months who have said they need to have an EI system that can respond quickly to changing labour market needs. This will ease the worry of those Canadians who have been laid off through no fault of their own and are trying to find another job."
– The Honourable Dominic Leblanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for Beauséjour
"Middle class Canadians and those working hard to join them, will prosper from a revitalized and strong Canadian economy. This Government is proud to be taking concrete actions to help Canadians get back to work. When a Canadian loses their job through no fault of their own, and is struggling to find that next job and earn a living, they deserve to have an EI program to turn to that reflects today's labour market realities."
– The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
- 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 on-line tools such as Job Bank and Job Match into their job search efforts.
- 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.
- Some 33,000 claimants nationally could benefit by the extension of the Work-Sharing agreements.
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, [email protected]