Report argues national EI program has fundamental flaws

Report: EI program 'flawed'

With the federal government set to make changes to the country’s Employment Insurance program to better deal with the pandemic, some say it is also time to fix more longstanding problems with the system. 

A new paper from the Fraser Institute, BC-based think-tank, says workers are not being treated equally by the program across Canada.

“EI pre-recession was riddled with problems including the exclusion of an increasing portion of workers and inequitable treatment of workers depending on their residence” said Jake Fuss, economist at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Issues Facing Canada’s Employment Insurance Program.

“In some parts of the country, Canadians must work more hours to qualify for the same EI benefits as Canadians in other areas, and self-employed and some part-time workers don’t qualify at all, which raises serious questions about the program’s inequities and fairness,” added Fuss.

The paper notes a worker living in Restigouche-Albert, New Brunswick would only need to work and contribute to EI for 420 hours to qualify for 32 weeks of benefits as of July 2020, and a maximum of 45 weeks with 1,330 hours of work, because the regional unemployment rate is 16.8%. 

Meanwhile, a worker living in Abbotsford, British Columbia must contribute to EI for 595 hours for 18 weeks of benefits, with a maximum of 42 weeks of benefits for 1,820 hours, because their regional unemployment rate is only 8.8%.

Also, self-employed workers and part-time workers often don’t qualify for EI, meaning a significant portion of the Canadian workforce is left without any temporary income support.

The paper argues the current EI program creates inequities between workers and can act as a disincentive to work and discourages labour mobility.

“Canada’s Employment Insurance system has a number of flaws and shortcomings which are being highlighted by the COVID recession,” said Steven Globerman, study co-author and resident scholar at the Fraser Institute.

The full paper can be found here.

More Canada News

Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill Webcam
Castanet Classifieds
Recent Trending
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada