Human Resources Minister Diane Finley just released this:
Facts about recent changes to the Employment Insurance program
There have been many inaccuracies circulating about the recent changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program. Some of the most common myths about the changes are addressed in this fact sheet.
Myth: People will be worse off financially
Some think that the Employment Insurance (EI) program changes will force workers to accept low-paying jobs that will leave them worse off than when they are on EI.
Fact: This is not true. Connecting Canadians with available jobs is about helping EI claimants stay in the job market. Changes ensure that claimants taking jobs will be better off working than receiving only EI.
EI Regular and fishing claimants are expected to broaden their pool of potential jobs by expanding their job search efforts as time spent on claim increases. But, they will never have to take a job that puts them in a worse financial position than EI alone.
A full-time job that pays a bit less than the previous job will still pay more than EI benefits alone. Even combining part-time work and EI benefits would mean the person is better off financially.
Myth: Regional economies will be hurt
Fact: The Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs initiative is about common-sense changes that make sure work pays by encouraging and supporting EI claimants to find jobs in their local areas that match their skills.
No one is being forced to move out of their community to find a job. Through the enhanced Job Alerts system’s job postings, claimants will be able to find out about local jobs that match their skills. If there are no jobs available in their communities, EI will continue to be there, just as it has always been.
No one will have to take a job that puts them in a worse financial position than EI alone. By strengthening links between EI and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, qualified EI claimants will be made aware of, and can apply for, local jobs.
Myth: Seasonal workers are being forced out of their industries
Fact: Nothing prevents seasonal workers from returning to their seasonal jobs when they start up again. Like any other EI claimants, seasonal workers are required to look for suitable employment when on EI.
No one will have to take a job that puts them in a worse financial position than EI alone.
Myth: EI claimants will lose their benefits if they cannot find a job
Fact: All claimants have always been expected to look for work. However, finding work is more difficult in some communities than in others and that will be considered when assessing job search efforts.
If there is no work available in their communities, EI will be there for individuals, just as it always has been. No one will lose their benefits if they cannot find a job, provided that they make a reasonable effort to find a job and accept employment that is suitable.
No one will be forced to move to take a job. And no one will be forced to take a job that would leave them financially worse off than remaining on EI.
Myth: EI beneficiaries who work part-time earn less
Fact: Under the old pilot project, benefits were clawed back dollar-for-dollar once work exceeded about one day a week. Through the new Working While on Claim pilot project, claimants are encouraged to accept all available work while on EI by allowing them to keep 50 cents of their benefits for every dollar earned while on claim. By working more, they can keep more of what earn.
By working while on claim, unemployed Canadians can maintain their labour force attachment which will improve their probability of finding long-term employment.
Myth: EI will cut people off benefits
Fact: No one who fulfills their responsibilities will lose their EI benefits. These responsibilities include performing a reasonable job search and accepting suitable employment.
Myth: Regions aren’t being treated fairly
Fact: The calculation for employment insurance benefits will be fairer and more responsive to local conditions. It will treat all Canadians the same, according to the unemployment rate were they live. In other words, areas of the country that have the same unemployment rate will have their benefits calculated the same way. Effective April 7, the number of weeks of best earnings used to calculate employment insurance benefits will range from 22 weeks where unemployment is 6% or lower to 14 weeks where unemployment is 13% or higher.
For example, Tim lives in an area where unemployment is 13.5% and worked at a sporting goods store. He was a full-time employee but in the weeks before he got laid off, his hours were cut, resulting in lower pay for those weeks. When he applied for EI, 14 of the weeks when he worked full-time, his highest paying weeks were used to calculate his benefits.
Myth: Reduced access to EI
Fact: Changes to the EI program do not change eligibility rules or the maximum duration of EI benefits. EI claimants will continue to be eligible for the same number of weeks of benefits. In addition, by enhancing connections to available job information, EI claimants are being encouraged to maintain their workforce participation and attachment.
Myth: More rigid appeals
Fact: The current process for hearing social security appeals (EI, Old Age Security and CPP) is complex and confusing for Canadians and needs to be made more efficient.
There are currently four separate tribunals for these appeals. As of April 2013, these will be merged into one new organization, known as the new Social Security Tribunal (SST). Most tribunal members will be full-time and dedicated solely to hearing and deciding EI, CPP and OAS appeals.
The process for appeals will be more effective for Canadians by simplifying the processes and increasing use of technology, such as video conferencing. The current use of manual paperwork will also be significantly reduced.
Myth: EI claimants now have to prove they are looking for work
Fact: The need for claimants of EI regular and fishing benefits to look for work while collecting benefits is not new. As before, EI claimants are expected to keep a detailed record of their job search efforts. The changes simply clarified those responsibilities.
Now, the enhanced Job Alerts system helps claimants get information about jobs in their communities that fit their qualifications. The recent changes also clarify responsibilities regarding what constitutes a “reasonable job search” and “suitable employment”.
If despite their best efforts, EI claimants cannot find a suitable job, EI will continue to be there, as it always has. However, claimants are expected to make a reasonable effort to find suitable employment. Persistence is the key to success and this is why, those receiving EI regular and fishing benefits, regardless of where they live, are expected to make ongoing efforts to look for work.
Myth: Employers need to prove someone’s job search efforts
Fact: The onus is on claimants to demonstrate they are making reasonable efforts to obtain suitable employment and employers are not required to validate or provide proof of these activities. Claimants should not pay employers for the purpose of validating their job search efforts and if asked they should refuse. EI regular and fishing claimants are responsible for keeping detailed records that they are making reasonable efforts to obtain suitable employment