Thanks to the hard work of Unifor members, the federal government has promised changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system- but they’re not in place yet.
At the start of COVID, the federal government relaxed EI eligibility to improve access to emergency support for those most in need. Without these supports, it would have been much worse for workers and their families due to the COVID closures, lockdowns and layoffs.
Shamefully, the federal government allowed these rules to expire without implementing the permanent changes needed to make EI work for workers.
An inaccessible and inadequate EI program is another disaster for workers who need access to EI now before the next crisis hits. That’s why we are demanding the federal government immediately implement the following permanent reforms:
- An immediate extension to the temporary EI measures which expired on September 25 2022 as a bridge to permanent improvements in Employment Insurance, applied retroactively;
- A 360-hour qualifying rule with 50 weeks of income support;
- Eliminating the 50 week limit on combined special benefits and extend the reference period to at least 104 weeks;
- Increasing the income replacement rate to 75% and raise the ceiling on insurable earnings;
- Eliminating the allocation of separations payments;
- An end to harsh disqualification rules;
- Ensure migrant workers have access to EI;
- Ensuring access to benefits for workers who work multiple part-time jobs;
- Paying off all debt incurred by the EI program due to temporary pandemic measures;
- Reintroducing federal government contributions;
- Encouraging adoption of supplemental unemployment benefit (SUB) plans by adding an incentive tier in the premium reduction program; and
- Continuing to develop a comprehensive plan on how to expand EI to include self-employed, freelancers, independent contractors, and “gig” workers.