EI Consultation: Submission guide (Phase 2)

We invite you to participate in this consultation by sharing with us your views related to the following themes and key questions.

Read the background information, including key questions for Phase 2 consultations below. For more context, you can also read the Phase 1: What We Heard Report.

Theme 1: Ensuring the adequacy of benefits (Does the amount and duration of these benefits meet the needs of workers contributing to Employment Insurance (EI)?)

One of the goals of EI modernization is to make sure the benefits received are adequate for the workers who rely on them during temporary periods of unemployment or when facing specific life events. The adequacy of EI benefits is determined by how much is provided to a claimant and for how long this benefit is available to the claimant.

For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of their average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount called the Maximum Insurable Earnings (MIE). The MIE is set annually to the average industrial wage as published by Statistics Canada. As of January 1, 2022, the MIE amount is $60,300. This means that a claimant can receive a maximum amount of $638 per week in EI benefits in 2022.

For EI regular benefits, a claimant can receive these benefits for 14 to 45 weeks. How long these benefits are available to a claimant varies depending on the unemployment rate in the region where they live, and the number of insurable hours the claimant has accumulated in the qualifying period (which means, the last 52 weeks before the start date of a claim or since a previous claim was established, whichever is shorter). The number of weeks for which a claimant may receive EI regular benefits does not change if the claimant moves to another region after their benefit period begins.

If a claimant is a seasonal worker, they may be eligible to receive 5 additional weeks of EI regular benefits, up to a maximum of 45 weeks.

For EI special benefits, a set number of weeks are available to claimants depending on the benefit type they claim, and provided they have the number of insurable hours required and meet all other eligibility requirements. All claimants have the same number of weeks available to them, regardless of the unemployment rate in the region where they live.

Table 1: EI special benefits -Types of benefits and number of weeks a claimant can receive benefits
Type of benefit Maximum number of weeks
Maternity 15
Parental 40 when shared (standard)
– A parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks 69 when shared (extended)
– A parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks
Sickness 15 (to be extended to 26 in 2022)
Compassionate Care 26
Family Caregiving Benefit for Children 35
Family Caregiver Benefit for Adult 15

Self-employed workers can also opt into the EI program to access EI special benefits. EI regular benefits are not available to self-employed workers.

The same benefit rate calculation rules apply to both EI regular and special benefits. To calculate a claimant’s benefit amount, Service Canada uses a specific number of a claimant’s highest paid weeks of employment. The number of weeks that Service Canada uses is based on the unemployment rate where the claimant resides and it could be between 14 and 22 weeks.

The amount of weekly benefits is calculated in the following way by Service Canada:

  1. add the claimant’s insurable weekly earnings from the claimant’s best weeks based on information provided and the record of employment
  2. divide that amount by the number of best weeks based on where the claimant lives, and
  3. multiply the result by 55%

Once the amount of weekly benefits is established, it will remain unchanged over the life of that claim.

The EI Family Supplement is also available for claimants with dependent children under 18 years of age whose net family income is $25,921 or less.

Key questions to explore further

Theme 2: Ensuring the financial sustainability of the EI program (How can we build a better EI program while balancing costs and benefits and limiting the need for premium increases?)

EI financing is based on a sustainable model that ensures stable and predictable premium rates for Canadian workers and employers. The model is guided by the following principles:

  1. transparency and accountability: Contributions from employers and employees, who are all EI premium payers, are only used to finance program expenditures and rates are set in an objective, transparent and non-arbitrary fashion
  2. good governance: The EI program is financed in a sustainable and equitable way such that premiums are predictable and consistent with a contributions-based insurance system in which risk is pooled across all EI premium payers
  3. economic resiliency: The funding model is able to sustain itself through economic shocks particularly during recessions/economic crisis
  4. administrative efficiency: The premium rate setting process is administratively efficient

The EI program is financed through contributions from employers and employees up to the Maximum Insurable Earnings income threshold. Employers pay 1.4 times the employee premium rate for each of their workers. The rate is set each year by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission based on a forecasted 7-year break-even cycle, and annual changes to the premium rate are subject to a legislated limit of 5 cents.

During Phase 1 consultations, participants raised the importance of ensuring the continued long-term financial sustainability of the program as part of building a more inclusive and responsive EI program, and avoiding steep increases in EI premiums. Both workers and employers suggested exploring different EI financing models.

Key questions

  1. How can we support the long-term financial sustainability of the EI program? What approaches could be explored for balancing the costs and benefits of a more responsive program and for smoothing out changes to the premium rates following economic shocks?
  2. What supports or incentives could be provided to employers and workers to help sustain the EI financing model?

Preparing your feedback

You can submit feedback on any or all of the questions above.

Do not include personal information about yourself, or other individuals.

In your response:

Once completed, please send your feedback to NC-EI_Consultations_AE-GD@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca.

By taking part in this consultation, you acknowledge that you:

We will only accept submissions by email.

Please submit your feedback by July 29, 2022.

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