Canada needs an Employment Insurance (EI) system for the 21st century—one that better meets the needs of workers and employers. As our economy continues to recover from the pandemic and emergency programs wind down, the Government of Canada is consulting with Canadians to build an EI system that is simpler, fairer, and more flexible.
April 29, 2022 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development CanadaCanada needs an Employment Insurance (EI) system for the 21st century—one that better meets the needs of workers and employers. As our economy continues to recover from the pandemic and emergency programs wind down, the Government of Canada is consulting with Canadians to build an EI system that is simpler, fairer, and more flexible.
The plan to modernize Canada’s EI system must be directly informed by the people who will be impacted. That is why today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission’s Commissioner for Workers, Pierre Laliberté, and the Canada Employment Insurance Commission’s Commissioner for Employers, Nancy Healey, launched the second phase of consultations to modernize the EI program.
All Canadians are welcome to provide feedback by visiting the Consulting with Canadians website. This phase of consultations will explore the adequacy of EI benefits, in particular by examining whether the amount and duration of EI benefits meet the objectives of the program and the needs of those contributing to EI. It will also focus on the financial sustainability of the EI program by balancing costs with benefits and limiting the need for premium increases. Roundtable discussions will take place with worker and employer groups and other EI experts beginning in mid-May. The consultations will run until July 29, 2022.
To help inform Canadians, the Government has also released a What We Heard report, which summarizes the key takeaways from the first phase of consultations.
From August 2021 to February 2022, more than 1,900 Canadians and 200 stakeholder groups from across the country representing workers, employers, unions, industry groups and academics shared their experience and expertise to help modernize EI and make the program more resilient, accessible, adequate and financially sustainable.
The Government heard about the importance of reforming the EI program so that it is simpler, more responsive, inclusive and sustainable. The system must evolve to support different kinds of workers, including gig workers and self-employed workers. It needs to better support workers in their times of need while promoting attachment to the workforce, particularly during times of labour shortages.
Budget 2022 reaffirms the Government’s commitment to building an EI program that includes simpler and fairer rules for workers and employers, new ways to support experienced workers transitioning to a new career, and coverage for self-employed and gig workers. It also renews the Government’s commitment to implement other important changes to the EI program. This includes increasing EI sickness benefits for Canadians who are facing illness or injury from 15 weeks to 26 weeks later this year. To help seasonal workers, Budget 2022 also proposes to extend measures that add five additional weeks of regular benefits to seasonal claimants in 13 targeted EI economic regions until October 2023, while the Government considers longer-term measures that best meet the needs of seasonal workers.
The Government will develop and release its long-term plan for the future of EI after the second phase of consultations conclude in 2022.
“The last two years have shown us just how important EI is, but also how much better Canada’s system could be. That’s why we’re working closely with employers, workers, unions and other partners across the country to make EI fairer, simpler, and more flexible. Modernizing a system that serves millions of Canadians each year will have serious implications on our economy and its workforce, and we’re taking the time needed to get it right.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“Workers share our view that the EI program must adapt to better meet the needs of Canada’s workers. During the first phase of consultations, stakeholders shared their perspectives on many important and timely issues. From improving access and flexibility of benefits to supporting seasonal workers in the off-season to helping experienced workers transition to new careers, Canada’s workers have contributed significantly to our consultations. In the second phase, we look forward to continuing the conversation on subjects such as benefit adequacy and the financing of the program. Our goal is to move forward and improve the EI program so that it meets the needs of all working Canadians.”
– Pierre Laliberté, Commissioner for Workers, Canada Employment Insurance Commission
“Employers play a critical role in the EI program. Over the last several months we have heard clearly from our stakeholders about the importance of considering costs to the EI program and the need to better understand the implications of proposed reforms. Changes to the EI program should be considered in the context of today’s economy and labour market realities. In the second phase of consultations, we will take a deeper dive into these issues and more, with an aim of balancing the needs of employers and employees to better serve the needs of our evolving economy.”
– Nancy Healey, Commissioner for Employers, Canada Employment Insurance Commission
Budget 2021 invested $5 million over two years, starting in fiscal year 2021 to 2022, for the Government to conduct targeted consultations with Canadians and stakeholders from across the country on future and long-term EI improvements.
The first phase of the consultations focused on changing nature of work, access to EI, simplifying EI, self-employed and gig workers, life events, seasonal work and the Premium Reduction Program.
In addition to the opening and closing roundtables, Minister Qualtrough and the EI commissioners hosted four national stakeholder roundtables on the themes of access to EI, life events, and self-employed and gig workers. The Government also hosted 11 virtual regional stakeholder roundtables, one in each province and one in the territories. There were also four officials-led roundtables on seasonal work and the Premium Reduction Program.
The online consultations generated more than 1,900 responses to the online questionnaire from individuals across the country and more than 70 written submissions from groups and individuals representing employers, workers and unions.
These EI consultations are building on previous work such as the review of the EI program conducted by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (2021), the Employment Insurance Service Quality Review Report (2017) and the EI Special Benefits online consultations (2016).