Improving the EI System
The Employment Insurance program (EI) is designed to provide temporary income support while claimants are looking for work. It’s not meant to be an income supplement if people choose not to work, or a disincentive from acquiring permanent employment.
That’s why we’re making much-needed changes to ensure the EI program is working most effectively for Canada and Canadians.
Let me explain. Last fall, there were approximately 250,000 unfilled jobs across Canada. In many instances, employers hired temporary foreign workers in the same occupation and location as Canadians collecting regular EI benefits.
For example, almost 500 people right here in Manitoba with experience as general farm workers submitted EI claims in the same month that employers hired over 50 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) for the same jobs.
In total last January, almost 600 unemployed Manitobans submitted EI claims for jobs that were filled by temporary foreign workers in positions such as nursery and greenhouse workers, food service supervisors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.
This isn’t right. We’re going to fix this by enhancing information sharing between the EI program and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Foreign workers should not be displacing Canadian workers.
We’ve also heard from people who rely on EI that the challenge of finding a new job is unnecessarily stressful. Claimants often aren’t aware, or taking full advantage, of the resources available to them in terms of locating services, negotiating assistance and committing to employment program goals. Under the current system, there is no clear definition of “suitable employment” or what constitutes a “reasonable” job search.
We will clarify suitable employment guidelines as well as what constitutes a reasonable job search for EI purposes. This will better ensure EI claimants are actively looking for, and accepting all suitable work.
Despite overblown opposition rhetoric, as you can see, these changes are practical. We want to help people back into the labour market before they get discouraged. For example, people collecting EI benefits will also receive comprehensive job postings on a daily basis from multiple sources. It just makes sense.
Some provinces have already developed innovative practices to provide assistance to those who need it most. Our Government will build on these best practices to ensure Canadians get the help they need quickly so they can get back to work faster. People who stay active in the labour market – either working or looking for work – are more likely to find permanent employment sooner.
While the opposition NDP prefers to attack hardworking Canadians who go to work every day filling crucial roles, we want to better connect Canadians with available jobs. Under our plan, Canadians will always benefit financially from accepting suitable employment.
More information about additional measures that strengthen work incentives, such as enhancing the “working while on claim” provision is available at www.actionplan.gc.ca.