Government of Canada releases report on Phase 2 of the Employment Insurance modernization consultations
September 28, 2022 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program is a critical part of Canada’s social safety net. It plays an important role in supporting workers during temporary periods of unemployment and in stabilizing the economy during economic hardships. That is why the Government of Canada is working with unions, employers and other stakeholders to modernize the EI program, so that it is fairer, more flexible and more responsive to the needs of current and future workers.
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, announced the release of a What We Heard report, summarizing the key takeaways from the second and final phase of the EI modernization consultations.
Phase 1 consultations ran from August 5, 2021, to February 17, 2022, and focused on gathering input from interested Canadians and stakeholders on the changing nature of work, access to EI, simplifying EI, self-employed and gig workers, life events, seasonal work and the Premium Reduction Program.
Phase 2 consultations ran from April 29 to July 29, 2022. Building on the information gathered during the first phase, Phase 2 focused on gathering input on the adequacy of EI benefits and the financing of the program. It also took a deeper dive into areas discussed in Phase 1 that required additional examination. This included supports for self-employed workers, workers in seasonal industries and the Premium Reduction Program.
The views of stakeholders were consistent throughout the consultations. Worker groups voiced the need to prioritize increased access to EI. They noted that benefits are currently not adequate for meeting the needs of recipients, in particular for lower income workers. Employers recommended that EI modernization changes should not place additional financial burdens on businesses. They also expressed the importance of ensuring that the program encourages workers to return to work, especially in light of current labour shortages.
The Government is committed to delivering a better, more inclusive Employment Insurance program. It is currently analyzing the input received in both phases of the consultations to develop and put forward a path for the modernization of the EI program informed by the valuable input of stakeholders, Canadian workers and employers. The Government expects to announce details of this plan in the coming months.
“Canada needs an Employment Insurance program for the 21st century. That’s why we are working with unions, employers and other partners on how we can permanently improve EI and modernize the program so it better supports the workers of today and tomorrow, including gig workers and seasonal workers.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“Throughout the consultations, meaningful solutions have been proposed to solve the EI program’s long-standing deficiencies. Now it is time to deliver the first reform in over 27 years, to provide Canadian workers with the safety net they all deserve in an evolving economy.”
– Pierre Laliberté, Commissioner for Workers, Canada Employment Insurance Commission
“A modernized EI program must be forward-looking and affordable in order to be sustainable. Employers understand that EI provides important job-loss protection and want to ensure that it is effective in providing temporary income replacement during periods of unemployment. However, reforms to EI must take into account the challenges faced by businesses in Canada today and into the future. A modernized EI program must stay true to insurance principles, and balance the need to support workers while promoting a return to the labour force.”
– Nancy Healey, Commissioner for Employers, Canada Employment Insurance Commission
Budget 2022 reaffirmed 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 new careers and coverage for self-employed and gig workers.
Phase 2 of the EI modernization consultations included:
- 12 national and regional roundtables with more than 100 stakeholders participating from across Canada; and
- 3 targeted workshops with experts on self-employed and gig workers, seasonal work and EI financing.
More than 90 individuals and organizations provided written submissions for Phase 2 on various aspects of EI modernization.
Phase 2 builds on the information gathered from Canadians and stakeholders during Phase 1 of the consultations, which ran from August 2021 to February 2022.
During Phase 1, more than 1,900 Canadians and 200 stakeholder groups from across the country, representing workers, employers, unions, industry groups and academics, provided input through national and regional roundtables, written submissions and an online survey.
The 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).
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
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