Big changes coming to EI

December 19, 2012

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 19, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Starting early in the New Year Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system is set for some pretty big changes, including, and for the first time, claimants will be tiered based on their past frequency of claims.

That change is aimed at bringing more efficiency to the labour market, but whether or not it will actually encourage more migration is yet to be determined.

Even without the changes the trend in EI claims has been positive, despite a slight recent up-tic nearing pre-recession levels. According to Statistics Canada the number of EI recipients edged up slightly, by 4,600, in October relative to September to 535 thousand. The number of people initiating claims remained steady at 231,000. Alberta’s numbers mirrored the national average, although there was a bump in initial claims by 5.7 per cent over the period (this might be related to XL Foods fiasco in Brooks).

Starting in 2013 there will be three different tiers of claimants: frequent claimants, occasional claimants and long-tenured workers (i.e. workers who rarely use the system). The time before which beneficiaries are expected to accept jobs in different fields at lower rates of pay is tied to the tier they fall under. Essentially, the goal is to dissuade habitual usage which will have a major impact on industries that rely on seasonal workers such as tourism, farming or fishing.

The question will be whether workers will remain in regions where industry is heavily reliant on EI as a form of wage supplement. Or will these individuals pick-up and move to provinces where a steady pay check might be easier to find – like Alberta perhaps?

| ATB Financial

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