June 6, 2012
Ottawa introduces Employment Insurance program changes
The federal government is making changes to create a stricter Employment Insurance (EI) program.
Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, recently followed up on measures announced in the 2012 budget focusing on new rules regarding “suitable employment.”
Those who have been on EI longer will be expected to take a job at a lower rate, compared to their previous pay. Most Canadians will need to accept an available job within an hour’s commute of their home.
As part of the change, the government will send job alerts twice a day to Canadians receiving EI.
The plan includes linking the Temporary Foreign Worker program with the EI program to connect unemployed Canadians with local jobs before employers are approved to hire temporary foreign workers.
The government says “there is significant evidence to suggest that some employers are hiring temporary foreign workers (TFWs) while Canadians/permanent residents are making claims for Employment Insurance (EI) in the same occupation and province.”
The government is also developing approaches to notify Canadians receiving EI information about job opportunities within their area and occupational field. These alerts will come from the government’s Job Bank website as well as the private sector.
“As Canada faces unprecedented skills shortages, it will be critical to better connect Canadians with available jobs in their local area,” said Finley.
Last fall, Statistics Canada identified that there were 250,000 job vacancies across the country. Canadian Labour Congress president, Ken Georgetti, pointed to a recent Statistics Canada release that identified that there are 5.8 unemployed workers for each reported job vacancy.
Georgetti said the government should put money into training and apprenticeship programs to train unemployed and young workers for available jobs.
“We saw no new money in the federal budget for training. The government, it seems, would sooner pick on unemployed workers than help to retrain them,” he said in a release.
Long-tenured workers, those who have been mostly employed the past 10 years, can refuse a job outside of their occupation that pays less than 90 per cent of their previous hourly wage.
After 18 weeks of EI benefits, workers will be expected to accept wages in a job similar to their normal occupation starting at 80 per cent of the previous hourly wage.
Frequent claimant, who had three or more regular and/or fishing claims and received over 60 weeks of regular and/or fishing benefits in the past five years, are required to accept wages starting at 80 per cent of their previous hourly wage.
After seven weeks, they would be required to accept any work they are qualified to perform starting at 70 per cent.
Occasional claimants must accept work pay at least 90 per cent of their previous wages for the first six weeks, 80 per cent in the next 12 weeks and 70 per cent after 18 weeks on EI.
Economic Action Plan 2012 announced additional measures that strengthen work incentives, such as enhancing the “working while on claim” provision and adopting a national “best weeks” approach to calculating a claimant’s weekly EI benefit amount to better reflect local labour market conditions.
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