September 9th, 2011

UserPosted by: * PACT Editor

Should it be Easier to Qualify for Employment Insurance? (Bill C-280)

When Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau reformed the Employment Insurance (EI) system to make it easier for applicants to qualify for benefits in 1971, EI became known as the ‘10/42’, because after only ten weeks of work, you could receive benefits for the remaining 42 of the year. Since then, it has been progressively reduced by Liberal, Progressive Conservative, and Conservative governments. The number of hours worked that are required to qualify for EI is presently tied to the regional rate of unemployment, and is revisited annually: at present, if the unemployment rate is 6% or less, a person needs at least 700 hours; if it is 13.1% or more, only 420 hours are required.

An employee must pay premiums into his or her EI account - 1.73% of gross earnings (up to $43,200) everywhere except Quebec, where the rate is 1.36% - to a maximum of $747.36 per years. Those with EI accounts in good stead may then access 55% of their average weekly earnings up to the $43,200 cap, or a maximum of $468 per week for between 14 and 45 weeks (after a two-week waiting period), depending on circumstance, in times of unemployment. As with all types of insurance, premiums are kept low because most of the insured never has to make a claim.

The NDP has been pushing a Private Members’ Bill (Bill C-280) to reform the EI system again, making benefits easier to access. The party recommended the number of hours needed to qualify be reduced to 360, the benefit amount go up to 55% of the worker’s highest-paid 12 weeks, the waiting period be reduced, and the consideration of regional unemployment rate be removed. MPs for the Conservative Party strongly opposed the bill, saying it would give workers a year’s worth of EI for only 45 days of work and would cost $7 billion per year. The Bill was supported by the Bloc and the Liberals, but did not pass prior to the end of Parliament's most recent session. It will likely be put forward again in the next session.

Those in opposition of the proposed EI reform argue that making EI too easy to access will result in people choosing to accept EI benefits rather than working; premiums will need to be hiked to pay for it. On the other hand, EI has been running a massive surplus ($57 billion in 2008), which goes into the government’s coffers. Auditor General Sheila Fraser has long called for EI premiums to be separated from general revenues, and the surplus be reduced to about $15 billion, which she said would be enough to get through economic turmoil, with little success. Premiums now fluctuate from year to year, based upon the unemployment rate, as a means of ensuring the surplus doesn’t balloon, however the fact remains that EI is turning a profit. 

Video: Tories and Grits cooperate on Employment Insurance reform


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User J Patton
Political View

3 years ago

User R Odynski
Political View

3 years ago

Employment insurance is easy enough to get as it is.

If we are going to spend more on people without a job, it should go to people who can't work due to mental or physical disability.

User S LeBlanc
Registered Voter

2 years ago

ha ha 57 billion$ and they spend the workers money like it was going out of style I agree with Auditor General Sheila Fraser has long called for EI premiums to be separated from general revenues, and the surplus be reduced to about $15 billion they have a nerve putting this money back into the general coffers shows how POLITICOS do what ever the fuck they please ... CHOOSING seasonal jobs is a bad choice? working for minimum wage a better choice? having children a bad choice? .. no wonder we need a big change in mindset here..

User J Flontek
Political View

2 years ago

It should be easier for those that do need it, but those that violate the system should be dealt with severely.

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Should the Employment Insurance system be reformed to make it easier to qualify for benefits?

68% (26 votes)
32% (12 votes)
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C Pavlis voted: Yes

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P Sachs voted: No
6e7b33fdea3adc80ebd648fffb665bb8 voted: Yes
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S Ferri voted: Yes
692f93be8c7a41525c0baf2076aecfb4 voted: No
R Odynski voted: No
C Benchimol voted: No
G Haas voted: Yes
J Stachyruk voted: No
N Uhlig voted: Yes
cd00692c3bfe59267d5ecfac5310286c voted: No
J Flontek voted: Yes
D Veilleux voted: Yes

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