Mannville, AB —The Government is making improvements to Employment Insurance to connect Canadians with available jobs. The announcement was made recently by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
"These changes to the Employment Insurance rules will be good for employers searching for workers and will also be good for workers looking for employment," said Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville – Wainwright. "Everything possible must be done to ensure that employers can find the workers so desperately needed to move business forward and to continue to build a stronger economy."
“Our Government wants to make Employment Insurance work better for Canadians,” said Minister Finley. “We are announcing improvements to EI that will help Canadians who want to work, get back to work.”
The improvements will enhance the assistance provided to people collecting EI benefits. Canadians receiving EI benefits will now receive comprehensive job postings on a daily basis from multiple sources. This will ensure that Canadians receiving EI benefits are made aware of the jobs available in their local area.
The improvements include measures to better connect the EI and Temporary Foreign Workers program to ensure Canadians are aware of and can apply for local jobs before employers are approved to hire temporary foreign workers.
The Government will also define suitable employment as well as what constitutes a reasonable job search. This will strengthen the requirements for EI claimants to actively look for and accept all suitable work.
“As Canada faces unprecedented skills shortages, it will be critical to better connect Canadians with available jobs in their local area,” added Minister Finley. “Clarifying what is expected of claimants looking for work is just one element of our broader plan to encourage and support Canadians as they seek to return to work. Under our plan, Canadians will always benefit financially from accepting suitable employment.
“It is important that we make changes now to ensure the EI program is working most effectively for Canada and Canadians,” concluded Minister Finley.
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. More information is available at www.actionplan.gc.ca.
Through Economic Action Plan 2012 (EAP 2012), the Government of Canada is making significant improvements to better connect unemployed Canadians with job opportunities in their local area.
Part of this plan includes clear expectations of Canadians who are claiming EI while they search for work. This includes clarifying the definition of suitable employment and what constitutes a reasonable job search.
Under the existing EI Act, Canadians who are collecting EI are required to look for work.
The current legislation lacks clarity with respect to what constitutes suitable employment and a reasonable job search. The Employment Insurance Act states that claimants are obligated to search for and accept suitable employment but does not define the term. The Act only defines what is “not suitable employment”.
As indicated in Bill C-38 - Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, it is the Government’s intention to implement clear definitions for “suitable employment” and “reasonable job search.” Should the Jobs, Growth, and Long-term Prosperity Act receive Royal Assent, the Government will define both in new regulations as outlined below.
PLEASE NOTE: These improvements only apply to Canadians receiving regular and fishing EI benefits. They do not apply to Canadians receiving EI special benefits (maternity, parental, compassionate, and sick leave).
Several factors will determine the definition for suitable employment. These factors include:
- Personal circumstances – the personal circumstances of a Canadian receiving EI benefits will be taken into consideration when determining what is considered suitable employment. A person receiving EI will not have to accept work if:
- they have a health problem that prevents them from taking a particular job;
- they have family obligations that prevent them from working at certain times of the day;
- they have limited transportation options in terms of commuting to and from work; or
- they are not physically capable of performing the work.
- Working conditions (i.e., position offered is not vacant due directly to a strike, lockout or other labour dispute);
- Hours of work (i.e., all available hours of work, including hours per day and available outside the previous work schedule, are deemed to be suitable for employment)
- Commuting time (i.e., workplace is within a one hour commute – could be higher taking into account previous commuting history and community’s average commuting time).
There are two additional criteria that will determine the definition for suitable employment. These will vary based on the claimant’s EI history and the duration of the claim. They are:
- type of work (responsibilities, tasks, qualifications, experience); and
In determining these criteria, EI claimants will be placed in one of three categories:
- Long-tenured workers would be those who have paid into the EI system for the past 7 of 10 years and who, over the last 5 years, have collected EI regular or fishing benefits for 35 weeks or less.
- Frequent claimants would be those who have had three or more claims for regular or fishing benefits and collected benefits for a total of more than 60 weeks in the past five years.
- Occasional claimants would be all other claimants.
The group of long-tenured workers would include claimants who have paid into the EI system for the past 7 of 10 years and over the last 5 years have received 35 or fewer weeks of EI regular/fishing benefits.
Long-tenured workers would be required to expand the scope of their job search the longer they receive EI benefits. However, long-tenured workers would be provided with significantly more time to search for a job within their usual occupation and at a similar wage (starting at 90% of previous hourly wage). After 18 weeks on EI benefits, long-tenured workers would be required to expand their job search to jobs similar to the job they normal perform and to accept wages starting at 80% of their previous hourly wage.
The group of frequent claimants would include claimants who had three or more regular and/or fishing claims and received over 60 weeks of regular and/or fishing benefits in the past 5 years.
Frequent claimants would be required to expand their job search to jobs similar to the job they normal perform at the onset of their EI claim (1-6 weeks) and accept wages starting at 80% of their previous hourly wage. After receiving benefits for seven weeks, they would be required to accept any work they are qualified to perform (with on the job training, if required) and to accept wages starting at 70% of their previous hourly wage.
The group of occasional claimants would include all claimants not captured by the definitions of frequent and long-tenured worker claimants. These claimants have limited experience of being unemployed and looking for work.
Occasional claimants would be allowed to limit their job search to their usual occupation and wage (at least 90% of previous hourly wage) for the first 6 weeks of their claim. After receiving benefits for seven weeks, they would be required to expand their job search to jobs similar to the job they normally perform with wages at 80% of previous earnings. After 18 weeks, they would be required to further expand their job search to include any work that they are qualified to perform (with on the job training, if required) and to accept wages starting at 70% of their previous earnings but not lower than the prevailing minimum wage.
Reasonable job search
The Government is providing clarity on what constitutes a reasonable job search. EI claimants’ job search efforts would be assessed based on the following criteria:
Job search and employability activities – Canadians receiving EI benefits will be required to complete the following job search activities while collecting benefits:
- Researching and assessing job prospects;
- Preparing for job application (preparing resume);
- Searching for job vacancies;
- Applying for positions;
- Attending interviews; and
- Other efforts to improve employability (workshops, employment agencies, job fairs, networking, etc.).
Intensity of job search effort – Canadians receiving EI benefits will be required to look for a job every day they receive benefits. The frequency of their job search and the diversity of the search should be consistent with the opportunities available. For example, in a city or community with few job openings or opportunities, the job search should focus on identifying opportunities (i.e., researching and searching) and not applying to the same job or business every day. In comparison, a job search in an area with numerous job opportunities should focus on both identifying and applying for available positions.
Type of work being sought – when looking for work, the work being sought by a Canadian receiving EI benefits will have to align with the definition of suitable employment.
Evidence of job search efforts – Canadians receiving EI benefits would be required to keep a record of their job search activities and submit, when requested, evidence supporting all job search activities undertaken.
EI claimants who do not comply with job search requirements risk losing their benefits until such time as they comply.
Annex A: Suitable Employment
This annex provides information that could be considered by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission in developing definitions for the new regulations once Bill C-38 receives Royal Assent.
“Suitable employment” would be defined based on six criteria, two of which (type of work and hourly wage) would vary according to the claimant’s EI history and duration of claim:
As the duration of their EI claim increases, claimants would be required to expand what is considered suitable employment in terms of type of work and hourly wage.* As is currently the case, Canadians would not be required take jobs with unsafe working conditions. The time intervals for when this would happen would vary for each category of EI claimant.
* The hourly wage could not be lower than the minimum wage effective in the province or territory where employment is being sought.
** Long-tenured workers (LTW) are individuals who have worked and paid EI premiums for a significant period of time and have previously made limited use of EI regular benefits.