Canada: Major Changes to our Employment Insurance Program (Part 1 of 2)






In concert with my recent article on Supplemental EI Benefits for BC, I would like to share this informative post with you, which outlines our government’s continued commitment to improving Canada’s Employment Insurance System.

You will note that a number of these changes have already come into effect earlier this month, while some are slated for August 2016; such as the Working While on Claim Project.

The balance of the impending changes and enhancements to our EI system will not come into play until 2017; this includes reducing the EI waiting period from 2 weeks to 1 week, which is anticipated to begin on January 1, 2017.

New measures came into effect earlier this month that will permit the eligibility of more Canadians for EI support, simplify job-search rules for claimants, and offer more help for people heavily affected by the commodities sector downturn.

The changes include the elimination of EI eligibility requirements for new entrants and re-entrants. Instead of having to accumulate 910 hours of insurable employment, claimants newly entering the workforce, or returning after an absence of 2+ years must now meet the same eligibility requirements as other claimants in the economic region they live in. This measure will provide access to EI support for many new workers, including young Canadians, women, and new Canadians.

Simplification of Job search responsibilities for EI claimants. The rules enacted back in 2012 which forced unemployed persons to commute farther, or to take lower-paying jobs have been rescinded. The Government will also make sure that there are fair and flexible supports to help EI claimants train for and find new employment.

Extended EI BenefitsCanadians living in the identified EI economic regions hardest hit by the commodities downturn, having sustained a sharp increase in job losses have already begun to receive extended EI regular benefits.

Budget 2016 proposes to ‘extend EI regular benefits by 5 weeks to all eligible claimants, and to provide up to an additional 20 weeks of EI regular benefits to long-tenured workers, in the hardest hit EI economic regions NOTED BELOW ONLY:

  • Edmonton;
  • Southern Saskatchewan;
  • Southern Interior British Columbia;
  • Northern Alberta;
  • Nunavut;
  • Whitehorse;
  • Newfoundland/Labrador;
  • Sudbury;
  • Northern Manitoba;
  • Northern Saskatchewan;
  • Calgary;
  • Southern Alberta;
  • Northern British Columbia;
  • Northern Ontario; and
  • Saskatoon

All of the above three measures came into effect on July 3, 2016, and are part of the government’s plan to help Canada’s middle class, as well as those that are working hard to join it.

Other proposed measures to enhance our EI System over the course of our government’s mandate includes but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • Extending the Maximum Duration of Work-Sharing Agreements;
  • Investing in Skills and Training;
  • Enhancing Investments in Training;
  • Increasing the Northern Residents Deduction;
  • Supporting Flexible Work Arrangements;
  • Easier access to Compassionate Care Benefits; and
  • Flexibility in Parental Leave Benefits.

For a comprehensive list of proposed changes, stats, and further information on Canada’s impending EI enhancements, please visit the websites noted below.


Supporting Article Research Sources: Government of Canada, Employment Insurance Benefits


Part 2 of 2, ‘Working While on Claim’ will follow shortly