Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report 2014/2015  Chapter IV - Program administration

This chapter provides an overview of the delivery of Employment Insurance (EI) services to Canadians in 2014/2015. Section 1 briefly examines the context in which EI benefits were delivered. Section 2 provides an overview of the service delivery channels through which Canadians can obtain general information on the EI program. Section 3 focuses on claims processing and specialized services including Specialized Call Centres, services for employers, and appeals of EI decisions. Section 4 explores the quality of EI services, including the accuracy of payments. Lastly, Section 5 assesses the integrity of the delivery of the EI program.

1. Context

Service Canada's role is to provide timely and accurate EI benefit payments and services, and to support EI clients through each stage of the service delivery process by providing benefit information, responding to enquiries, assisting employers, processing claims and providing the means to appeal decisions.

EI benefits are delivered through a multi-channel service delivery model – online, by phone or in-person – designed to meet the day-to-day demands of clients. The processing and payment of EI benefits occurs through a national network of processing sites and EI Specialized Call Centres located across the country. The EI service delivery network's workload varies considerably from week to week and month to month as client enquiries and claim volumes fluctuate dramatically based on seasonal patterns, key dates and unanticipated spikes due to economic conditions.

While the Canadian economy continued to experience GDP growth in 2014/2015, and the economy displayed moderate labour force and employment growth outpacing some other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and G7 countries, the reported average duration of unemployment was 20.6 weeks in 2014/2015, and there were 1.31 million unemployed individuals on average in a given month.

In 2014/2015, Service Canada received 2.8 million EI applications and made $15.7 billion in payments to claimants. Claims volume increased slightly compared to 2013/14 (0.80%). Furthermore, clients made over 4.0 million EI-related in-person service requests while 3.8 million enquiries were answered by the EI Specialized Call Centres Footnote 1 and over 556,000 EI-related enquiries were received by 1 800 O-Canada Footnote 2 . The Employer Contact Centre (ECC) Footnote 3 answered a total of 610,952 calls in 2014/2015.

In addition to delivering EI benefits, transforming and modernizing business operations remained a key priority for the Department in 2014/2015. Over the past decade, as a result of modernization and automation, EI service delivery was transformed from a manual paper-based process (where 100% of claims required agent intervention) into a partially automated network where claimants can apply online; paper is almost eliminated; and processing activities are distributed across the national processing network to where capacity exists. To improve the delivery of EI, efforts continued through 2014/2015 to increase claims processing automation and optimize the electronic services available to individuals and businesses. Even with the steps taken by Service Canada to make it easier for Canadians to receive their EI benefits through a range of processing modernization and automation efforts, EI claim volumes have continued to exceed the funded capacity.

2. General information and enquiries

Canadians can access EI related information through a multi-channel service delivery model available on the Internet, by telephone or in person. Service Canada conducted a recent study on findings from the Canadians Out of Employment Panel (COEP) survey, to evaluate the service experience of Canadians who contacted Service Canada on Employment Insurance. Results show that overall, the majority of respondents were satisfied with their Service Canada experience, and satisfaction increased over time (62.7% in the 2012 COEP survey, 67.6% in the 2013 COEP survey, and 71.2% in the 2014 COEP survey). According to the 2014 COEP survey, the main reasons for satisfaction included receiving the right information, good service, and claim approval. The main reasons for dissatisfaction included delays in processing requests, repetitive asks for the same information, and difficulty accessing the service.

2.1. On the Internet (Click)

2.1.1 Service Canada Website

The Service Canada website contains key information on a wide variety of government programs and services, including the EI program. In 2014/2015, visits to the site increased 1% over the previous fiscal year, bringing the total annual visits to approximately 82.3 million. Footnote 4

On average, visitors viewed 3.7 pages on the Service Canada website, with 1 in 10 visits (10.5%) associated with eight or more pages viewed. In 2013/2014, visitors viewed 3.8 pages on the Service Canada website, with 1 in 10 visits (11.4%) associated with eight or more pages viewed. In 2014/2015, four of the top five Web pages accessed through the Service Canada website were related to EI:

  • Internet Reporting Service
    • 17.3% of homepage traffic
  • Use My Service Canada Account to access your Employment Insurance information
    • 7.76% of homepage traffic
  • Applying for Employment Insurance benefits online
    • 5.39% of homepage traffic
  • Employment Insurance (EI index page)
    • 2.72% of homepage traffic

This shows a general decrease in traffic directly from the homepage to EI related pages from the previous fiscal year. The top five pages accessed from the Service Canada homepage remained unchanged in the previous fiscal year, 2013/2014; however the traffic to the EI related pages was marginally higher:

  • Internet Reporting Service
    • 18.6% of homepage traffic
  • Use My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to access your Employment Insurance information
    • 9.39% of homepage traffic
  • Applying for Employment Insurance benefits online
    • 4.76% of homepage traffic
  • Employment Insurance (EI index page)
    • 3.54% of homepage traffic

In 2014/2015, the top page viewed directly from the Service Canada homepage was the “My Service Canada Account” page: this page received 28.8% of all homepage traffic which is a substantial increase from the 19.5% recorded in 2013/2014.

Web videos are also a cost-effective way to help clients understand the available program and resources and enable them to use self-serve options and complete transactions. Examples of EI videos added in 2014 include EI Specialized Benefits for Self-Employed People: Maternity and Parental; EI Specialized Benefits for Self-Employed People: Sickness and Compassionate Care, Connecting Canadians to Available Jobs (CCAJ) and Working While on Claim (WWC). In 2014/2015, videos pertaining to EI generated 1,874,682 views from the Service Canada website, as well as a further 9,217 downloads from the Service Canada YouTube site. This represents an increase of 35% over the previous fiscal year.

In 2014/2015, Service Canada launched a major redesign to streamline and rewrite the content of Web pages to make them more accessible and to reduce barriers for Service Canada clients who could face challenges in using e-service. In 2014/2015, this effort focused on the EI Web pages and was comprised of a Plain Language Review and Redundant, Outdated and Trivial review, as well as a revision to break down complex tasks. Some of the changes included: making access to MSCA more prominent; organizing the most popular links based on top tasks and top searches on the site; and, making content by service and life event accessible through the global navigation at the top of the pages on the site.

In 2015 Service Canada began planning, preparing, and moving its Web content to the single Canada.ca website as part of the Government's Web Renewal initiative. The move to Canada.ca provided an opportunity to rethink and improve the organization and design of EI Web content and how the program is presented to Canadians. To improve user friendliness, Service Canada is adopting a common content template for all services and benefits delivered online, including EI. This new template allows Service Canada to present available EI benefits in fewer and easier to read Web pages, while still giving potential applicants all the information they need to apply including who is eligible; how much they could receive; how to apply; what they need to know before applying; and what they need to know after applying.

2.1.2 My Service Canada Account

My Service Canada Account (MSCA) is a secure transactional portal on the Service Canada web site that provides online access for viewing and updating EI, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and Old Age Security (OAS) information. The use of electronic services contributes to more accessible, accurate and timely services for Canadians.

MSCA enables clients to view information on their current and previous EI claims online. Through the EI section of MSCA, clients can:

  • View their EI messages, payment information and claim information;
  • View and change their EI direct deposit details, mailing address and telephone number;
  • View and print their EI tax slips;
  • View their electronic Record of Employment (E-ROE);
  • Directly provide information regarding absences from Canada and/or training courses; and,
  • Register for the EI program to access special benefits for self-employed persons.

MSCA also provides links to other electronic services, such as EI Application On-line also known as AppliWeb and the Internet Reporting Service. Each month, MSCA is accessed over 300,000 times by EI clients to get updates on their EI claims, submit new information, and sign up for or change their Direct Deposit service.

In 2014/2015, Canadians logged onto MSCA 22.8 million times, an increase of 7.4% over 2013/2014. Chart 1 demonstrates that MSCA logins have been trending upward since 2009/2010. In 2014/2015, there were 751,881 new registrations for MSCA. This represents an increase of 5.0% compared to 2013/2014, for a total estimated active user base of over 3.1 million.

Chart 1 - My Service Canada Account Logins
Show Data Table
2015/2016 %+/- % Successful 2008/07 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
April 2,570,966 55.60% 98.13% NA 1,348,445 1,037,433 1,427,876 1,611,127 1,633,955 1,652,260
May 1,921,026 8.40% 95.03% NA 1,226,522 1,013,943 1,489,525 1,530,382 1,531,023 1,772,179
June 1,814,414 23.17% 97.38% 522,701 1,208,110 964,734 1,372,536 1,483,919 1,364,901 1,473,090
July 4,030,778 106.78% 819,696 1,286,360 1,184,457 1,741,956 1,838,212 1,879,682 1,949,330
August 0 -100.00% 877,840 1,226,297 1,206,676 1,984,354 1,645,011 1,770,427 1,796,502
September 0 -100.00% 840,294 1,084,974 926,032 1,633,567 1,325,446 1,487,479 1,582,713
October 0 -100.00% 828,249 1,075,010 1,163,215 1,651,071 1,392,386 1,546,668 1,500,924
November 0 -100.00% 964,307 1,094,137 1,380,477 1,864,850 1,281,274 1,589,343 1,587,619
December 0 -100.00% 1,281,516 1,254,299 1,547,338 2,259,660 1,385,393 1,789,358 1,952,899
January 0 -100.00% 1,579,231 1,447,925 1,841,843 3,588,280 2,002,396 2,308,887 2,551,151
February 0 -100.00% 1,050,153 1,256,636 1,643,402 2,497,480 1,752,390 2,198,637 2,422,843
March 0 -100.00% 1,136,376 1,205,538 2,011,173 1,848,094 1,661,882 2,131,819 2,567,464
Year to Date Total 10,337,184 97.4% 9,900,363 14,714,253 15,920,723 23,359,249 18,909,817 21,232,179 22,808,974
In Millions 9.9 14.7 15.9 23.4 18.9 21.2 22.8
  • Source: EI administrative data.

Efforts continued throughout 2014/2015 to improve the stability and availability of MSCA through the implementation of a new secure platform in January 2015. In line with efforts to continuously improve user experience, an exit questionnaire Footnote 5 , randomly presented to 1 out of 100 logouts, was implemented to validate that the user was able to accomplish what he or she had intended when logging onto MSCA. Between January 26, 2015 and March 31, 2015, a total of 27,098 invitations to complete the exit questionnaires were issued. Of these, 1,488 questionnaires were completed and submitted by MSCA users, for a participation rate of 5.5% and 82.6% reported that they were able to accomplish their intended task. Data collected will be analyzed and reported on in a future report. MSCA continues to invite users to complete feedback questionnaires to obtain user experience information; this feedback is reviewed on a regular basis and is being leveraged to further enhance the system including the design of an improved eAccount portal.

2.1.3 Employment Insurance Application On-line (AppliWeb)

Introduced nationally in April 2002, the EI Application On-line (AppliWeb) allows clients to file for EI benefits from anywhere they can access the Internet and is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Clients can also visit their local Service Canada Centre (SCC) to access the EI Application On-line.

In 2014/2015, EI Applications On-line continued to be the prevalent method of application for EI benefits with 98.4% of applications submitted via AppliWeb. Since 2007/08, AppliWeb usage has remained well above 95%.

2.1.4 Internet Reporting Service

To receive EI benefits, most claimants must complete and submit bi-weekly reports to demonstrate their continuing entitlement using the Telephone Reporting Service or the Internet Reporting Service. The Internet Reporting Service enables claimants to do so easily and securely over the Internet, resulting in faster processing of EI payments and ensuring availability of service to hearing-impaired claimants and claimants without access to a touch-tone telephone.

The Internet Reporting Service also allows claimants to directly provide information regarding absences from Canada and/or training courses, resulting in fewer calls to EI Specialized Call Centres and decreasing the workload for processing centres.

In 2014/2015, 73.1% of claimants used the Internet Reporting Service to submit biweekly reports. The percentage of claimants utilizing this service has increased from 61.9% in 2010/2011 to 73.1% in 2014/2015 (see Chart 2)

Chart 2 - Percentage of Claimants Using Internet Reporting Service
Show Data Table
2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
% of Claimants Using Internet Reporting Service 39.2% 46.6% 53.0% 59.1% 61.9% 65.1% 68.4% 70.6% 73.1%
  • Source: EI administrative data

2.2. By Telephone (Call)

For general enquires, the public can call the 1 800 O-Canada line, whereas the EI Specialized Call Centres serve as the primary point of contact for client-specific enquiries about the EI program. In addition to answering specific client queries, the EI Specialized Call Centres are able to resolve issues relating to application process, status, and benefit eligibility and delivery. More information about EI Specialized Call Centres is available in Section 3, subsection 2, Claims Processing and Specialized Services, of this chapter. Employer Contact Centres (ECCs) provide support to employers for ROE Web, advice, guidance and ordering of ROEs as well as the Temporary Foreign Worker program. Additional information on the ECCs is available in Section 3, subsection 3.3.4.

2.2.1 1 800 O-Canada

Available in more than 60 countries, the 1 800 O-Canada Footnote 6 line is open Monday to Friday with service provided in English and French. For callers in Canada, service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in each time zone; for callers outside Canada, service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The service delivery standard is to answer calls within 18 seconds (three rings), 85% of the time. In 2014/2015, 1 800 O-Canada answered 80% of the calls in 18 seconds.

1 800 O-Canada provides general information on the various EI programs in the context of its regular mandate to inform the public about all programs and services available and how to access them. The information that may be provided on the services includes:

  • an overview of the benefits and eligibility criteria;
  • application process and forms;
  • general information on payment dates Footnote 7 (not applicable for the EI benefits as payment information is case specific);
  • direct deposit information; and
  • referral of contacts to specific programs, including the pertinent EI web pages and links necessary to complete their service delivery journey.

Clients that have case-specific enquiries are advised to access the MSCA website, or contact the EI Specialized Call Centers or the Employer Contact Centre as required.

In 2014/2015, agents of 1 800 O-Canada answered 1.96 million calls, a 2.5% increase compared to 2013/2014. The total call volume from callers in and outside of Canada included more than 556,228 general enquiries related to EI a 5% decrease from 2013/2014. It continues to evolve with the degree of accessibility of the EI Specialized Call Centres. 90.8% of the enquiries handled by the service also included a further referral to the program for more specific questions. Across the country, 9.6% of EI-related calls continued to originate in the Atlantic, 24.4% from Quebec, 33.6% from Ontario, and 32.5% from the Western provinces and the territories. Overall, EI enquiries peaked in April (with 12.6% of annual enquiries), and again in May and June (10.1% and 11.2% of annual enquiries respectively).

2.3. In Person (Visit)

2.3.1 Points of Service

As of March 31, 2015, there were 556 Service Canada sites (321 full-time and part-time Service Canada Centres (SCC) and 235 Scheduled Outreach sites), where citizens could access general information on the EI application process and eligibility criteria. Service Canada employees in these locations help clients complete benefit applications, which entails identifying the client, validating supporting documents and verifying information for completeness. The in-person points of service fall under two categories:

  • SCC are full-time or part-time offices, open up to five days a week, managed and occupied by Service Canada staff, offering general information and transactional services. SCCs may be stand alone or co-located with other organizations; and,
  • Scheduled Outreach sites are points of service that are physically located outside an SCC but offer similar services. Service Canada employees (from a nearby SCC) travel to a pre-determined location regularly (e.g., one day per week) to deliver services. Scheduled outreach is typically offered in rural or remote locations, offered at partner premises (such as band councils, provincial or territorial offices), and managed through service contracts and/or memoranda of understanding.

Service Canada aims to ensure that 90% of Canadians have access to a Service Canada point of service (SCC or Scheduled Outreach site) within a 50-kilometre driving distance from where they live. The number or network of offices can fluctuate and is adjusted based on needs and demand for service. In the last five years, this target has been met, with a result of 96.07% in 2014/2015.

In 2014/2015, clients made over 4.0 million EI-related service requests Footnote 8 to an in-person point of service, which represents 32% of all interactions handled at in-person offices. Of these, EI-related visits to Scheduled Outreach sites across the country accounted for more than 66,600 service requests.

Types of EI assistance provided by in-person services in 2014/2015 consisted of the following interactions: 56.4% for follow-up assistance; 40.4% to provide general information; and 3.2% to accept or provide assistance with applications.

A recent survey conducted in January 2015 was done based on MSCA Feedback forms from Service Canada Centres. It helped identify what users wanted to accomplish at the Centres and determined if they were able to accomplish their desired tasks. These tasks included activities such as: appealing an EI decision, changing their EI information, and viewing EI information, among other tasks. There were over 1,600 respondents. Results show that the top activity users wanted to accomplish at the Service Canada Centre (SCC) was to view EI information. Over 56% of respondents accessed the site to view EI information, 89% of whom stated that they were able to complete this task, and 10% stated that they were unable to do so. One percent did not select an answer for this task. The next most frequent task users wanted to accomplish at the SCC was to view tax slips (10% of all respondents); 72% of these claimed they were able to complete the task, and the remaining 28% stated that they were unable to do so. Eleven percent of respondents visited the site for other tasks not part of the 12 listed in the survey.

2.3.2 Mobile Outreach Services

Service Canada also uses Mobile Outreach Services (MOS) to connect with communities across the country. MOS complement the services provided at SCCs and Scheduled Outreach sites. The service also increases awareness of Service Canada programs and service offerings by providing general information such as:

  • EI information at mass layoff sites;
  • Youth program information in locations such as schools;
  • Senior programs (e.g., CPP, OAS) in retirement homes; and,
  • Other Government of Canada programs and services to community service organizations.

In 2014/2015, the following information sessions on EI were delivered through MOS Footnote 9 :

  • 950 EI information sessions to citizens facing layoffs, with a total of 17,906 participants;
  • 263 EI information sessions to workers on Work Sharing, with a total of 5,309 participants; and,
  • 581 EI information sessions to employers, with 951companies and organizations participating Footnote 10 .

Chart 3 breaks down by region the information sessions delivered to citizens, including workers facing layoffs and work sharing sessions.

Chart 3 - EI Information Sessions to Citizens by Service Canada Region
Show Data Table
2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Atlantic 254 219 209 114 119
Quebec 849 582 461 425 586
Ontario 963 1,021 1,003 1,029 632
Western 413 306 318 202 282
NATIONAL 2,479 2,128 1,991 1,770 1,619
2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Atlantic 254 -13.8% 219 -4.6% 209 -45.5% 114
Quebec 849 -31.4% 582 /20.8% 461 -7.8% 425
Ontario 963 6.0% 1,021 -1.8% 1,003 2.6% 1,029
Western 413 -25.9% 306 3.9% 318 -36.5% 202
NATIONAL 2,479 -14.2% 2,128 -6.4% 1,991 -11.1% 1,770
  • Source: Mobile Outreach Administrative data

Yearly targets are not set for MOS EI information sessions since these sessions are offered on demand. Since 2010/2011, there has been a steady decline at the national level in the number of MOS EI information sessions delivered to citizens. This decline is partly explained by: changes in the economy and local priorities; reduced need since more EI information is available on-line; and, people can now make changes directly to their EI personal information on-line. The number of sessions delivered was 19% lower in 2014/2015 compared to the previous year. It should be noted, however, that this decline in sessions was in part, due to a reduced incidence of mass lay-offs in the Ontario region, since all other regions recorded increases in sessions from the previous year.

When Service Canada receives news of a mass layoff, regional offices initiate contact with employers to organize an EI information session. Working with partners, the laid-off workers receive on-site workshops on resumé writing, job search techniques, interviewing skills, EI and available provincial support programs. Sessions are usually planned on very short notice and often in remote areas. An example of notable mass layoff sessions delivered in 2014/2015 included: the employees who lost their jobs following the closure of a major chain of stores across Canada.

Service Canada also delivers EI information sessions in times of disaster. During such an event, custom tools and partnerships can be created to more effectively meet citizens' needs, particularly with regard to EI. While some Service Canada employees make proactive calls to employers affected by a tragedy to establish their needs, others ensure workers who lose their jobs can get the information required to submit their EI application.

3. Claims processing and specialized services

This section provides a snapshot of the 2014/2015 activities related to claims processing and specialized services including EI Specialized Call Centres, services for employers and appeals of EI decisions.

3.1. Claims Processing

EI benefits are delivered through a national network of processing sites located across Canada. The network adjudicates new applications (referred to as initial claims), processes applications to renew or reactivate an existing claim (referred to as renewal claims) as well as revised claims that are created when updated or new information is received during the claim life cycle. There are also different levels of complexity (non-complex, Level 1 and Level 2) associated with the processing of claims. Non-complex tasks are related to data entry and claim preparation activities. Level 1 relates to straight forward fact-finding and claims calculation, while Level 2 processing involves complex fact-finding such as reason for separation issues.

3.1.1 Claim Volumes

In 2014/2015, Service Canada received 2.8 million EI applications, which represents a 0.80% increase from the previous fiscal year. Footnote 11 Table 1 provides the history of received claims over the last five fiscal years. Refer to Chapter 2, Section 1.1 for details on benefits paid by benefit type.

Fiscal Year EI Initial Footnote 12 and Renewal Footnote 13 Claims Received
2014/2015 2,800,865
2013/2014 2,778,769
2012/2013 2,759,570
2011/2012 2,854,168
2010/2011 2,917,508

3.1.2 Speed of Payment

There are a range of factors that affect EI processing performance, most notably seasonal fluctuations in workload demands. Speed of payment, a key performance indicator for EI claims processing, measures the percentage of initial and renewal claims Footnote 14 for which a payment or non-payment notification is given to the claimant within 28 days of the date of filing a claim. The national speed of payment target is 80% on a fiscal year average.

With continued high volumes of claims and limited resources, the Department achieved 72.3% speed of payment Footnote 15 in 2014/2015, up 3.0 percentage points from the previous fiscal year but below the 80% objective. Several factors can delay the payment of benefits within 28 days and affect speed of payment. These include: incomplete benefit applications requiring clarification of information, and complex applications requiring fact-finding with employers and third parties to render a fair and equitable decision. In addition, claim volumes fluctuate dramatically from week to week and peak periods occur when the Department experiences a higher than normal intake of claims throughout the country, in part due to seasonal/peak pattern. Further, the increased claim volume coupled with growing inventory levels affected the Department's ability to consistently meet service standards. To respond to the growing number of claims in the inventory, Service Canada implemented a 24-month Inventory Reduction Strategy in October 2014. The intent of the initiative is to reduce the accumulated inventory of EI claims to sustainable levels, while maintaining timely processing of new claims intake; the goal is to enhance service to Canadians by positioning the Department to meet the annual speed of payment target in fiscal year 2015/2016.

3.1.3 Modernization Agenda

As recently as 2003, the EI service delivery process was entirely paper-based and EI claims were processed manually and locally. Over the last 12 years, the EI service delivery model has been steadily transformed into a partially automated network where paper is almost eliminated, supporting documentation is imaged, and work is distributed across the national processing network to where capacity exists.

In 2014/2015, Service Canada continued to invest in the design and use of technologies to support the automated processing of benefits. As a result of these automation efforts, 67.2% of EI claims were partially or fully automated in 2014/2015, compared to 66.2% in 2013/14. As outlined in Chart 4, employers submitted 80.2% of Records of Employment (ROE) electronically and 93.4% of clients opted to receive their EI benefit payments via direct deposit Footnote 16 . In addition, nearly all claimants (over 98%) continue to submit their applications online and 100% of claimant reports are filed electronically either by phone or through the Internet.

Chart 4 - Use of Electronic Services
Show Data Table
2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
Claims Fully or Partially Automated 57.9% 59.7% 65.7% 66.2% 67.2%
Records of Employment Submitted Electronically 60.0% 65.8% 69.7% 75.0% 80.2%
Payment Received via Direct Deposit 83.2% 88.9% 90.9% 92.1% 93.4%
  • Source: EI administrative data

In May 2014, the Employment Insurance Online Reference Tool (EI ORT) was rolled out nationally across the Service Canada processing network. The EI ORT is the single authoritative source of guidance and direction for Service Canada processing agents nationally. The tool provides up to date and timely procedures that reflect the current work environment, as well as improved search capabilities, and intuitive Web navigation. By extension, this tool translates into more efficient and consistent service delivery for clients ensuring that all processing agents have timely access to procedures that are clear, concise and easy to identify and understand.

Since 2005/2006, the cost per initial and renewal claim processed declined approximately 42%. The increase in electronic services and automation has reduced the volume of manual work related to claims processing, resulting in fewer resources required to process the claims and a lower unit cost.

The Department continues to promote the ability for EI recipients to receive their tax information slip (T4E) electronically through MSCA, which allows slips to be viewed and printed up to four weeks earlier compared to postal service. For the 2014 tax year, more than 520,000 EI recipients chose to receive their slip electronically.

3.2. Employment Insurance Specialized Call Centres

Consisting of nine call centres, the EI Specialized Call Centre Footnote 17 network is the primary point of contact for EI client specific enquiries and resolutions relating to the application process and application status, as well as benefit eligibility and delivery. Calls are distributed across the network, based on availability of resources, regardless of where they originate.

3.2.1 Overview of Call Centre Performance

Call centres are equipped with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, which enables clients to self-serve for transactions such as application status, obtaining payment details and completing bi-weekly declarations. Specialized agents are available to support clients for enquiries that cannot be resolved through a self-serve channel (e.g. declaring receipt of specific types of earnings, including wage loss insurance and severance pay). Requests that exceed the complexity and call centre agents' authorities (e.g. when a client reports having been dismissed from a job) are communicated to the processing area for appropriate follow-up.

As is the case for processing, call centre network demand fluctuates throughout the year based on seasonal patterns, key dates (e.g. renewal of benefits, monthly cheque distribution, claims processing speed of pay, and reporting requirements), as well as unanticipated spikes due to economic conditions. The call centre network makes every effort to meet the demand during these high call volume periods. However, there are instances when demand exceeds the network's call handling capacity.

In 2014/2015, the total EI call volume reached almost 37 million calls. More than 54% of these calls (20 million) were resolved in the IVR without the need to speak to an agent, compared to 56.4% the previous year. EI Specialized Call Centre agents handled 3.8 million client enquiries, which amounted to 377,197 fewer calls than in 2013/2014.

While efforts are made to handle as many calls as possible, blocked and abandoned calls do occur. Blocked calls occur when the queue is full and no agents are available. When this occurs, callers are given an option to return to the IVR to self-serve or to call back later. In 2014/2015, twelve million blocked calls accounted for one-third of call volume. Blocked calls to agents increased by 306,067 in 2014/2015. This figure represents the total number of unsuccessful attempts to contact a call centre agent, and not the number of individual callers. Further, 1.1 million calls were abandoned in 2014/2015, 8,950 fewer than in 2013/2014. An abandoned call occurs when a client waiting to speak with an agent hangs up in some cases to call back at a later time or to use a self-serve option.

In 2013/2014, EI call centre agents answered 31.6% of calls within 180 seconds. A review of service standards was conducted to better align the target with the available resources and manage client expectations. As a result, a new metric was introduced on April 1, 2014 to have 80% of calls answered within 10 minutes. In 2014/2015, EI call centres answered 45% of calls within the 10 minute timeframe. Calls can vary from simple issues, such as advising claimants about the number of weeks of benefits to which they are entitled, to more complex issues, such as adjudicating the reason for separation from the claimant's employment. The length of the call varies depending on the level of complexity.

Overall, the decreased call-handling capacity and the service level results are largely attributed to call volumes relative to resource levels and increases in average handle time. As agents handle more complex enquiries, average handle time increases.

Close to 83% of calls at the first point of contact were resolved by call centre agents with no additional follow-up required.

The top five reasons clients requested agent assisted service in 2014/2015 included:

  • Client advised they must speak with an agent to ensure their bi-weekly declarations can be processed (e.g. client reported new self-employment or on full-time training during their reporting period);
  • Enquiries regarding the status of an EI application submitted more than 28 days ago;
  • Filing Instructions and Entitlement Information;
  • Enquiries regarding the status of an EI application submitted less than 28 days ago; and,
  • Assistance required to input a bi-weekly declaration and/or correct a declaration already accepted by the system.

Assessing the quality of calls is an important component of call centre performance. More information on the National Quality and Coaching Program for the EI Specialized Call Centres is available in Section 4, sub-section 2.

3.2.2 Modernization Agenda

In 2014/2015, the EI Specialized Call Centre network continued to move forward with its modernization agenda, which will introduce new technologies and service delivery strategies to improve client service, support staff and increase first contact resolution. The service vision for the Department focuses on implementing an integrated service delivery strategy that eliminates channel churn, and optimizes first contact resolution by resolving as many enquiries as possible.

Since the modernization agenda was developed in 2011/2012, EI Specialized Call Centres have implemented a series of key initiatives, including:

  • Streamlining service delivery by training call centre agents to resolve client enquiries at the first point of contact;
  • Implementing wait time functionality to advise callers of their expected wait time to speak with an agent;
  • Reviewing hours of service to ensure correct balance between client demand and agent assisted hours;
  • Creating flexible workload scheduling to more effectively meet anticipated call demand;
  • Streamlining the New Hires Call Centre Curriculum to shorten the initial training time and facilitate staged training; and,
  • Implementing a National Agent Assist Line to support call centre agents in resolving complex client enquiries.

Since 2011/2012, new business processes in the EI network allow call centre agents to complete selected complex transactions related primarily to claim calculation, which would have otherwise been forwarded to processing agents for future action. In 2014/2015, a select number of call centre agents resolved 184,951 such transactions, 10,624 more than had been resolved in 2013/2014.

In November 2013, Level 2 processing agents were integrated into the call centre network to resolve more complex enquiries at the client's first point of contact Footnote 18 . In 2014/2015, these agents completed 103,500 work items at first point of contact.

To further support the network, the National Agent Assist Line responded to and resolved 268,730 calls in 2014/2015 to support agents in responding to client enquiries. This represents an increase of 43,779 calls over 2013/2014.

With the current telephony system at end-of-life, a new telephony platform that enables the leveraging of new technologies is critical for continued call centre modernization. Since 2013/2014, ESDC has been working closely with Shared Services Canada, the department responsible for acquiring a government-wide, hosted, subscription-based call centre telephony platform.

3.3. Employment Insurance Services for Employers

Service Canada works with employers to ensure that the EI program is administered fairly and efficiently. Through the Employer Contact Centre (ECC) and the Service Canada website, employers can access up-to-date information regarding the EI program to help them understand their responsibilities and learn about the various services available to them which include Record of Employment on the Web (ROE Web), Record of Employment Secure Automated Transfer (ROE SAT) as well as guidance and user guides.

3.3.1 Record of Employment

The ROE is the key document used to process EI benefits, and to determine EI entitlement, rate and claim duration. Employers are required to issue ROEs within a legislated timeframe for each employee affected by a work interruption. Each year, more than 1 million Canadian employers fill out more than 9 million ROE forms for their employees.

Launched in 2003, the electronic ROE (eROE), including ROE Web and ROE SAT, continue to be a major factor in advancing the automation of the EI program and help minimize errors, improve service to claimants and avoid lengthy delays as a result of manual interventions required for paper ROEs. ROE Web is a secure Web-based application that enables employers to create, submit, amend, save and print eROEs. Employers have three different options to submit ROEs using ROE Web: the Online form, which allows users to submit ROEs one by one; an XML file that allows users to import a file from their payroll system which can contain up to 1,200 ROEs at a time; and the ROE Web Assistant, which is a new user friendly step-by-step component that guides users through the ROE completion process. The other eROE application, ROE SAT, is a secure communication line designed to allow employers or Payroll Service Providers to submit large volumes of ROEs simultaneously.

In 2014/2015, Service Canada undertook a strategic marketing campaign targeted to employers not using eROE, and contributed to an increase of 5.2 percentage points in electronic submissions, from 75.0% to 80.2% of 9.3 million ROE's over the previous fiscal year. Footnote 19

The eROE is also a key tool to reduce the administrative burden, as employers no longer need to order or store paper ROE forms, retain copies on file, or send copies to Service Canada or their employees. Employers can also issue eROEs in alignment with pay cycles, amend them more easily than paper ROEs and submit hundreds of them in one transaction.

Enhancements made to ROE Web in 2014/2015 include:

  • Version 2.0 of the XML Payroll Extract File was implemented. This version increases the quality of ROEs and reduces the need for employers to input a comment on the ROE thereby allowing for the automation of more EI claims.
  • The ROE Web Assistant was launched in November 2014. The Assistant is a user friendly, intuitive, interview-style tool that improves services to employers. This feature was developed to assist new and occasional ROE Web users to become familiar with electronic submissions of ROEs. It contains step-by-step screens, help text and glossary, page-by-page validations and a summary of the ROE information entered by the employer. From November 2014 to March 2015, many employers availed themselves of this new feature, which resulted in the submission of 13,435 eROEs using the Assistant.
Chart 5 - ROEs Issued
Show Data Table
2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
E-ROEs Issued 5,150,249 5,904,097 6,247,235 6,868,995 7,490,971
Total ROEs 8,589,149 8,970,647 8,966,935 9,158,195 9,335,571
% 60.0% 65.8% 69.7% 75.0% 80.2%
  • Source: EI Adminsitrative data

3.3.2 My Service Canada Business Account

ROE Web was the first application to start using online registration in the fall of 2013. Online registration is a service that enables ESDC to centralize and standardize online registration procedures and tools for business facing programs.

This service removes burdensome paper processes and enables identity validation to be done online rather than visiting an in-person Service Canada Centre (SCC).

By the end of 2014/2015, a total of 426,560 organizations had registered online, of which 37,179 Footnote 20 were new ROE Web registrants. Service Canada continues to actively promote its eServices tools to reduce paper-based processes by participating in various conferences and tradeshows across the country, providing informational webinars, and meeting on a regular basis with key partners such as the Canadian Payroll Association and the Federal Government Relations Advisory Council.

3.3.3 Record of Employment and Accuracy of Reported Earnings by Firms

A supplemental study was conducted in 2014/2015 to examine the quality of record of employment (ROE) from 2005 to 2012. The study examined the characteristics of jobs that end in separations (i.e. job separation with and without an ROE), and insured earnings reported on the ROE in comparison to T4 data. The study found that approximately 30% of earnings interruptions are without an ROE during the studied period; this percentage decreased slightly until about 2008, and then remained relatively stable between 27.8% and 28.9% until 2012.

Furthermore, results show the highest percentage of earnings interruptions without an ROE (28.7%) are observed in the service sector, which could be attributable to a higher rate of employee turnover within the sector. The majority of those experiencing an earnings interruption without an ROE are not represented by a union (including professional association). In other words, a much higher proportion of non-unionized earnings interruptions are without an ROE (33.1%) compared with unionized jobs (13.1%).

Finally, results related to the accuracy of earnings, where the hours worked are within a calendar year and are no more than 26 weeks long, indicated that between 80% and 83% of ROEs have insured earnings that are consistent (+/- $2) with earnings reported on the relevant T4, and that greater differences between the reported ROE and T4 were observed in ROEs produced by government, large firms, and unionized jobs. Further details on the study can be found in Annex 6.

3.3.4 Employer Contact Centre

Launched in June 2011, the Employer Contact Centre (ECC) enhances service to employers by providing employer service offerings through an accessible, national, single point of contact. The three ECC sites are located in Vancouver, Bathurst and Sudbury.

The ECC currently provides support to employers for 7 service offerings:

  • ROE advice and guidance;
  • Paper ROE orders;
  • ROE Web and Grants and Contributions Online Services (technical support);
  • Report on Hirings (Data Gateway support);
  • Work-sharing (Data Gateway support);
  • Automated Earnings Reporting System (Data Gateway support);
  • General information on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (excluding the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and jobs in Quebec, but including Live-In Caregivers in Quebec).

The ECC plays a key role in promoting ROE Web to employers for submitting their ROEs electronically. ROE Web marketing targeted at the employer community is implemented in collaboration with the ECC. Promotional materials and relevant campaign information are shared with the ECC to assist them in answering enquiries from employers interested in submitting electronic ROEs by registering for ROE Web.

In 2014/2015, the ECC answered a total of 610,952 calls, compared with 554,207 in 2013/14. The increase in the ECC volume corresponds to ministerial announcement and reforms for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and multi-system release for My Service Canada Business Account to ROE Web. The top five reasons employers called the ECC to speak to an agent for assistance with a service were the same as in 2013/2014: to order paper ROE forms; guidance on completing/submitting a ROE; referrals (e.g. misdirected calls from employees); enquiries related to ROE Web; and, the TFWP.

The ECC continues to assess its client service model and the best way to support additional service offerings. To expand further, ECC will need to leverage an interactive voice response system which will be available through the migration to the new government wide call centre telephony platform.

3.4. Employment Insurance Requests for Reconsideration

EI clients who disagree with a decision related to a claim for benefits have the right to request a reconsideration of that decision within 30 days from the date the decision was communicated or such further time that the EI Commission may allow. A formal request for reconsideration of a Commission decision provides clients with a review of the decision, including the opportunity to submit new or additional information. The Commission will review its decision to ensure that it is based on the accurate interpretation of legislation, program policies and jurisprudence, and is supported by complete and correct information. The review is performed by a different adjudicator than the one who made the initial decision.

In 2014/2015, the Commission received 49,205 requests for reconsideration. The Commission aims to complete requests for reconsideration reviews within 30 days from receipt of the request. In 2014/2015, the average time for completion was 39 days, with 45% of requests completed within the 30 day target.

Requests for Reconsideration – 2014/2015 Results
Requests received from claimants 47,870
Requests received from employers 1,225
Requests received from other clients* 110
Total requests received 49,205
Requests completed 50,388
Percentage of requests completed within 30 days 45.4%
Average time for completion (days) 39
Percentage of initial decisions reversed or adjusted following review 45%
  • *Other client: is any person who is subject to the decision of the Commission that is not a claimant or an employer.

The EI legislation allows clients to seek recourse on almost any decision related to a claim for benefits. While there are over 50 types of decisions or issues that can be subject to recourse, there are six issues that are most frequently challenged as shown in Chart 6. These issues generally involve a complete denial of benefits, such as a disqualification for voluntarily leaving employment without just cause, or a financial sanction for misrepresentation.

Chart 6 - Issues Challenged through formal reconsideration
Show Data Table
% Volumes
Benefit Period Not Established (BPNE) 11.9% 6858
Earnings 6.0% 3465
Misconduct 8.3% 4797
Misrepresentation-Penalty 8.6% 4962
Non-availability for work 11.6% 6684
Voluntary Leaving - without just cause 21.2% 12191
Other Issues 32.2% 18521
Total 100% 57478
  • Source: EI Adminsitrative data

The introduction of the formal request for reconsideration provision in the EI legislation has been beneficial for clients. As part of this provision, the Commission introduced a mandatory client contact policy under which Service Canada Benefits Officers are required to directly communicate with the requestor to explain the reason for the initial decision and to gather or clarify any information that may lead to a reversal or an adjustment to the decision. The benefits of this new approach are reflected in not only the number of decision reversals or adjustments (45%), but especially in the low number of clients that proceed with an appeal to the Social Security Tribunal (Tribunal) when the reconsideration outcome is not favourable to the client.

In 2014/2015, there were only 3,560 clients who chose to appeal the Commission's request for reconsideration decision to the first level of appeal at the Tribunal-General Division. In comparison, under the previous recourse system, an annual average of 24,000 client appeals proceeded on to the first level of appeal (the Board of Referees). This change represents an 85% reduction in the number of appeals proceeding on to the first level of appeal at an independent decision-making body, or administrative tribunal. This would seem to indicate that most clients with concerns about the Commission's initial decision have their concerns addressed through this new recourse process (i.e. formal reconsideration).

Chart 7 - EI First-level Appeals Received (2012/2013 to 2014/2015)
Show Data Table
1st level
2012/13 19827
2013/14 2967
2014/15 3560
  • Note: With the implementation of the new Request for Reconsideration process for EI, the number of decisions appealed to the Social Security Tribunal is approximately 82% lower than what proceeded to the previous tribunal, the Board of Referees in 2012/2013.
  • Source: EI administrative data and Tribunal administrative data

3.5. The Social Security Tribunal of Canada

The Social Security Tribunal (Tribunal) is an independent administrative tribunal that provides the appeals process under the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act. It operates at arm's length from the Department and the Commission.

The Tribunal includes two levels of appeals:

  • The General Division (first level of appeal for clients) includes an EI Section for EI appeals and an Income Security Section for Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security appeals.
  • The Appeal Division (second level of appeal for clients; first level of appeal for the EI Commission and the Minister) decides appeals of decisions made by the General Division.

General Division – EI Section

Clients who disagree with the Commission's reconsideration decision have the right to appeal to the Tribunal-General Division. To appeal a reconsideration decision issued by the Commission, appellants must ensure that the Tribunal receives their appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt of the reconsideration decision. The Commission is required to provide the Tribunal with a copy of the information it relied on to reach its decision. A General Division member will review the information the Commission provided to the Tribunal, and any new or additional information provided by the appellant and other parties to the appeal.

The member must summarily dismiss an appeal if the member is satisfied it has no reasonable chance of success. If the appeal is not summarily dismissed, the Tribunal will send a notice of hearing to the parties.

The Tribunal must conduct proceedings as informally and as quickly as the circumstances and the considerations of fairness and natural justice permit. Members decide on the form of hearing based on the following criteria:

  • The complexity of the issues under appeal;
  • The gaps in the information in the file;
  • Whether credibility will be an issue;
  • The number of parties attending the hearing;
  • The ability to accommodate the parties and participants; and
  • The availability of the technology (videoconference) within a reasonable distance of the area where the appellant lives.

The Commission generally does not attend the hearing.

EI Appeals to the Social Security Tribunal - General Division – 2014/2015 Results
Appeals received including group appeals 3,560
Group appeals 515
Appeals concluded* 3,120
Average time for completion (days) 154
Percentage of appeals allowed (favourable to appellants) * 24.3%
Percentage of appeals summarily dismissed

(no reasonable chance of success)*
  • *Includes appeals transferred from the Board of Referees

On April 1, 2014 the Tribunal - General Division had 1,980 active appeals in its inventory. During 2014/2015 it received 3,560 appeals from claimants, employers and other clients, of which 515 were group appeals. During the same period the Tribunal concluded 3,120 cases, which included 35 cases transferred from the Board of Referees leaving an active inventory of 2,420 on March 31, 2015, of which 1,095 were group appeals.

Of the total concluded cases, 24.3% were deemed in favour of the appellant (a claimant, employer or other client). The overall average time to render a decision was 154 days. This average time includes the time to render decisions on the 515 cases that were parts of group appeals. It also includes appeals where added parties were involved, appeals where parties requested adjournments and appeals where more complex questions were at issue such as Charter cases. Delays also resulted from the challenges the Tribunal had to overcome in its first two years of operations such as not having the staff, systems and procedures in place to process the inventory of appeals transferred from legacy tribunals in a timely manner.

The percentage of issues most frequently appealed to the Tribunal was generally very similar to those challenged through the request for reconsideration process. However, when the Tribunal receives a large group of appeals, the percentage of appeals for a specific issue can vary considerably because the volume of appeals at the Tribunal is much lower than the number of requests for reconsideration at the Commission. That was the case in 2014/2015, when a large group of appeals related to a labour dispute was filed at the Tribunal.

Chart 8 - Issues Appealed to the Tribunal - General Division
Show Data Table
Issues appealed to the Tribunal %
Benefit Period Not Established (BPNE) 7.5
Earnings 6.7
Labour Dispute 11.0
Misconduct 10.8
Non-availability for work 8.1
Voluntary Leaving 18.5
Other Issues 37.3
Total 100
  • Source: EI administrative data

The Tribunal – General Division concluded the cases before them in various forms of hearing, which are as follows:

  • Summary dismissals and withdrawals:
    • If a Member is satisfied that an appeal has no reasonable chance of success the appeal will be dismissed without a hearing.
  • In-Person Hearing:
    • An oral hearing by personal appearance is when the Member and the parties are physically in the same hearing room.
  • Telephone Hearing
    • An oral hearing by teleconference means that the parties will take part in the hearing by telephone.
  • Videoconference Hearing:
    • An oral hearing by videoconference means that the parties will appear by videoconference before the Member who is in another location. Videoconferencing allows the parties to interact with the Member via simultaneous video and audio transmissions.

The following chart presents the prevalence of the different forms of hearing at the Tribunal-General Division in 2014/2015.

Chart 9 - Forms of Hearing at the Social Security Tribunal - General Division 2014/2015
Show Data Table
SST GD Hearing types %
Summarily Dismissed 6.2
Concluded Without a Hearing 11.8
In-person Hearings 16.2
Video Conference 3.4
Telephone Hearings 68.5
  • Note: includes cases transferred from the Board of Referees
  • Source: Social Security Tribunal administrative data.

Appeal Division – EI Section

A party (i.e. a claimant, the Commission or an added party) may appeal a decision of the General Division to the Appeal Division within 30 days after the day on which the decision is communicated to the appellant. With the exception of appeals from summary dismissals discussed below, the first step is to file an application for leave to appeal, which means asking the Appeal Division for permission to appeal when the appellant is of the view that:

  • The General Division failed to observe a principle of natural justice or otherwise acted beyond or refused to exercise its jurisdiction;
  • The General Division erred in law in making its decision, whether or not the error appears on the face of the record; or
  • The General Division based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact that it made in a perverse or capricious manner or without regard for the material before it.

If, when reviewing the General Division's decision and the applicant's request for leave to appeal form, the member believes that at least one of the grounds for appeal has a reasonable chance of success, the member will give permission for the appeal to go forward and parties will have 45 days to provide submissions regarding the appeal following which the member will make a decision on the appeal or if the member decides that a further hearing is required, send a notice of hearing to the parties.

The application form for leave to appeal can be found on the Tribunal's website. The Tribunal must receive the completed application form for leave to appeal within 30 days after the day on which the decision of the General Division is communicated to the appellant otherwise the party will have to ask for an extension of time to appeal. In no case may an application be made more than one year after the day on which the decision is communicated to the appellant. A party does not have to file an application for leave to appeal when appealing a decision of the General Division to summarily dismiss an appeal.

On April 1, 2014, the Tribunal – Appeal Division had 1,326 active appeals in its inventory. During 2014/2015 it received 427 appeals and concluded 652 cases resulting in an active inventory of 1,101 on March 31, 2015, of which 646 were from a group appeal.

The appeals that the Tribunal concluded in 2014/2015, included 368 cases transferred from the Office of the Umpire, (which supported the previous tribunal that was replaced by the Tribunal - Appeal Division).

EI Appeals to the Social Security Tribunal – Appeal Division 2014/2015 Results
Total applications for leave to appeal and appeals received* 427
Total applications for leave to appeal and appeals completed 284
Applications for leave to appeal denied 195
Appeals withdrawn, dismissed or concluded for other reason 39
Appeals allowed (decision favourable to appellant)** 50
  • * An application for leave to appeal is not required when appealing a General Division decision to summarily dismiss an appeal. In 2014-15, there were 14 of these appeals received by the SST Appeal Division.
EI Appeals that transferred from the Office of the Umpire 2014/2015 Results
Total transferred appeals completed 368
Appeals withdrawn, dismissed or concluded for other reason 222
Appeals allowed (decision favourable to appellant)** 146
  • **An appellant to the Appeal Division can include a claimant, employer, representative of a claimant or employer and the EI Commission
Chart 10 - EI Second-level Appeals Received 2012/2013 to 2014/2015
Show Data Table
2nd level
2012/13 1621
2013/14 1068
2014/15 427
  • Note: With the implementation of the new recourse process for EI, the number of decisions appealed to the second level of appeal, the Social Security Tribunal is approximately 74 % lower than what proceeded to the Umpire.
  • Source: EI administrative data and Social Security Tribunal administrative data

The Tribunal – Appeal Division also concluded the cases before them in various forms of hearing. The following chart presents the prevalence of the different forms of hearing at the Tribunal-Appeal Division in 2014/2015.

Chart 11 - Forms of Hearing at the Social Security Tribunal - Appeal Division
Show Data Table
Form of Hearing %
Concluded Without a Hearing 55.5
In-Person Hearings 19.8
Telephone Hearings 24.7
  • Note: includes cases transferred from the Office of the Umpire.
  • Source: Social Security Tribunal adminstrative data

The percentage of 55% of appeals concluded without a hearing includes decisions on appeals of summary dismissals and decisions on applications for leave to appeal.

Social Security Tribunal Service Standards

As published on the Tribunal's website (Social Security Tribunal Service Standards) starting on September 1, 2015, the Tribunal will implement the following service standards for the General and Appeal Divisions:

  • General Division – EI Section - 85% of final decisions will be made within 90 days of the appeal being filed.
  • Appeal Division – EI
    • Decisions on Leave to Appeal – 85% of decisions on leave to appeal will be made within 60 days from filing of leave application.
    • Final Decisions – where leave has been granted – 85% of final decisions will be made within 7 months from the date leave to appeal was granted.

The standards are applicable to the general caseloads. The service standards do not apply to exceptional cases which generally take more time such as group appeals in EI, Charter cases, late appeals, cases in abeyance, those with potential added parties, etc. As well, there may be valid reasons for the Tribunal not to meet the proposed standards in every case such as when requests for extension of time are granted to ensure that natural justice is respected. The service standards may be revised if there are changes to the conditions that existed at the time of their development.

Publication of Decision

A selection of decisions rendered by the Social Security Tribunal can be retrieved via the following sites:

4. Quality

National payment and processing accuracy reviews are conducted to assess the quality of EI claims processing in order to identify areas for improvement, and where necessary, take remedial action. While the EI Payment Accuracy Review (PAAR) and the EI Processing Accuracy Review (PRAR) have distinct objectives, taken together, the two reviews provide important business intelligence to improve the processing and payment of EI benefits. EI PAAR and PRAR quality reports are generated on a monthly and yearly basis.

4.1. Payment and Processing Accuracy

4.1.1 Employment Insurance Payment Accuracy Review

The EI Payment Accuracy Review (EI PAAR) measures the accuracy of EI benefit payments. Over the last 15 years, the payment accuracy rate has been consistently maintained around the established 95% Footnote 21 target (error rate of 5%). Footnote 22 In addition to estimating the accuracy of EI benefit payments, the EI PAAR also determines the estimated “most likely” value (MLV) of incorrectly paid benefits (overpayments and underpayments) through statistical extrapolation.

The EI PAAR, using Monetary Unit Sampling, draws a random sample of 500 EI claims per year that are reviewed sequentially by two separate reviewers. Results from both reviews are compared to ensure the accuracy and the consistency of results among reviewers. The reviews provide detailed information on the nature of errors and the dollar value of unidentified errors at the time of adjudication. EI PAAR yields statistically valid results 19 times out of 20 with a margin of error of ±5%. Payment errors include overpayments and underpayments attributable to three sources: claimants, employers and Service Canada. EI PAAR results are used to improve program delivery. In addition, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) uses EI PAAR results in its annual financial audit of the EI Account, which is reported each year as part of the Public Accounts of Canada.

From 2013/2014 to 2014/2015, payment accuracy was stable, although there were some variations in the component sources of payment error (Service Canada, Employer and Claimant).

Table 2 provides an overall summary of the estimated MLV of errors identified in the EI PAAR review by error rate and source of error. Footnote 23

TABLE 2: EI PAAR - Estimated Extrapolated MLV of Errors and Estimated Error Rate, by Source
2013/2014 2014/2015
Total EI Benefit Payout $16.1 billion $16.3 billion
EI Payment Accuracy Rate 95.4% 95.5%
Estimated Mispayments* / Estimated Error Rate Most Likely Value ($M) Error Rate Most Likely Value ($M) Error Rate
$745.9 4.6% $738.0 4.5%
Errors by source
- Employer $278.1 1.7% $206.1 1.3%
- Claimant $381.0 2.4% $361.9 2.2%
- Service Canada $86.9 0.5% $170.0 1.0%
  • *Mispayments are the sum of overpayments and underpayments
  • Source: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

The EI payment accuracy rate remained approximately the same as the previous years, at 95.4% (or 4.6% error rate) in 2013/2014 and 95.5% (or 4.5% error rate) in 2014/2015. The error rate and MLV of error attributable to Service Canada increased from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015. However, this was balanced by improvements in the Employer and Claimant error rate. It should be noted that all PAAR errors are inventoried, analyzed to support continuous improvement and are corrected.

The increase in the Service Canada error rate in 2014/2015 was the first increase since 2010/2011. The increase in the error rate is mainly due to clerical and processing errors. Although the frequency of these errors did not increase much in 2014/2015, the average value of the errors was significantly higher than in the previous fiscal year. Other types of Service Canada errors remained stable or declined. The long-term stability of the Service Canada error rate suggests a stable and effective processing environment, to which increased automation has likely been a contributing factor. Since Automated Claims Processing (ACP) was introduced in 2007, the processing accuracy rate for fully automated claims and/or decisions has steadily increased from 96.5% in 2007/2008 to 100% in 2010/2011. Footnote 24 For partially automated claims, the automated portion also achieved a 100% accuracy rate between 2010/11 and 2014/2015.

The Claimant error rate decreased marginally from 2.4% in 2013/2014 to 2.2% in 2014/2015. 2014/2015 provides the first opportunity to conduct year-over-year detailed analysis of Claimant errors. From 2013/2014 to 2014/2015, the monetary impact of the claimant error “failure to report earnings while in receipt of benefits” declined significantly, even with a slight increase in the frequency of this error. However, this was offset somewhat by small increases in other errors attributable to Claimants (Table 3). Despite the overall MLV decline, “failure to report earnings” continues to represent a significant portion of claimant errors (from 69.5% to 55.1% of MLV), in both the number of occurrences and the MLV of overpayments and underpayments. Footnote 25 “Failure to correctly report monies paid or payable by former employers while in receipt of benefits” (i.e. vacation, pay in lieu of notice) accounts for 5.1% of the MLV of claimant errors in 2014/2015, up from 3.4% in 2013/2014, while “Failure to report the refusal of a job, quitting a job or being dismissed from a job while in receipt of benefits” accounts for 36.1% of the MLV of claimant errors, up from 25.3%.

TABLE 3: Claimant Errors in EI PAAR
Claimant errors 2013/2014 2014/2015
Total MLV ($M) # of Times Error Occurred Error as % of Monetary Value Total MLV ($M) # of Times Error Occurred Error as % of Monetary Value
Failure to report earnings $264.9 40 69.5% $199.3 43 55.1%
Failure to correctly report monies paid or payable by former employer while in receipt of benefits $12.9 5 3.4% $18.4 6 5.1%
Failure to report refusal of a job, quitting a job or being dismissed from a job while in receipt of benefits $96.6 3 25.3% $130.5 4 36.1%
Failure to provide sufficient information when filing a renewal application $6.6 1 1.7% $13.6 4 3.8%
Totals $381.0 49 100.0% $361.9 57 100.0%

The rate of employer errors decreased from 1.7% in 2013/2014 to 1.3% in 2014/2015. More Record of Employment (ROE)s were validated for 2014/2015 compared to 2013/2014 as there were more ROEs per claimant file. Specifically, there was an increase in files with at least three ROEs (from 57 to 77). For 2014/2015, eROEs accounted for nearly three-quarters of ROEs in the sample, a significant increase over the previous year when nearly two-thirds of ROEs in the sample were eROEs. For 2014/2015, paper ROEs continued to be nearly twice as likely to contain a monetary error (Table 4).

TABLE 4: Monetary Accuracy of ROEs Validated as Part of the EI PAAR
2013/2014 2014/2015
Count Percentage By ROE Type Count Percentage By ROE Type
# of ROEs validated in the PAAR review E-ROEs 503 65.1% 589 73.3%
Paper ROEs 270 34.9% 214 26.7%
Total 773 100.0% 803 100.0%
Incorrect E-ROEs 37 7.4% 30 5.1%
Incorrect Paper ROEs 38 14.1% 21 9.8%

There was a marginal increase in the number of claimant files that contained a monetary error attributable to employers (Table 5). However, as shown in Table 2, the monetary impact of employer errors declined slightly.

TABLE 5: Comparison of Number of EI PAAR Files Containing Incorrect ROEs
2013/2014 2014/2015
Count Percentage of Total Count Percentage of Total
PAAR Files which Contain Incorrect ROEs 72 14.4% 79 15.8%
  • Source: ESDC

In 2014/2015, the three most frequently occurring employer errors identified on ROEs accounted for 57.7% of all employer errors, approximately the same as in 2013/2014 (57.6%). They were in the following ROE blocks: "15B – Total insurable earnings", 15C – Insurable earnings by pay period and "17A – Vacation pay" (highlighted in Table 6). Errors on these three blocks have the potential to directly affect the calculation of EI payments as they cover total earnings and additional monies received.

TABLE 6: ROE Block Errors Resulting in Monetary Errors from EI PAAR
Box Errors (Monetary) 2014/2015
Total Value Total MLV ($Millions) Error as % of Monetary Value # of Times Error Occurred Error as % of Total Occurances
Block 6 - Pay period type incorrect $764 $16.7 8.1% 9 8.7%
Block 10 - First day worked incorrect $362 $5.8 2.8% 6 5.8%
Block 11 - Last day for which paid incorrect $399 $7.9 3.8% 10 9.6%
Block 12 - Final pay period ending date incorrect $128 $3.8 1.8% 5 4.8%
Block 15A - Total insurable hours incorrect $2,402 $64.4 31.2% 3 2.9%
Block 15B - Total insurable earnings incorrect $1,998 $32.4 15.7% 18 17.3%
Block 15C - Insurable earnings by pay period incorrect $2,562 $47.9 23.2% 30 28.8%
Block 17A - Vacation pay incorrect $695 $12.4 6.0% 12 11.5%
Block 17C - Other monies incorrect $879 $12.0 5.8% 8 7.7%
ER did not issue an amended ROE when necessary $249 $3.0 1.4% 3 2.9%
Totals $16,081 $206.1 100.0% 104 100.0%
  • Source: ESDC

The relative impact of an ROE error can be shown by assessing the estimated MLV of ROE error in relation to how frequently the error occurs. As noted in Table 6, “Total insurable earnings incorrect,” “Total insurable earnings by pay period incorrect,” and “Vacation pay incorrect” are the most frequent errors. However, despite their low frequency of occurrence, errors in block “15A – Total insurable hours incorrect” have a disproportionately high MLV and account for the largest share of the total MLV of errors (31.2%). The top three errors in 2014/2015 represent 70.2% of the total MLV of employer errors, up from 52.9% in 2013/2014.

Service Canada is working to ensure continuous improvement of program delivery and to strengthen the integrity of its programs. For instance, Service Canada continues to monitor and analyze employer errors and is working to raise awareness within the employer community regarding the nature and value of these errors. Service Canada continues to follow up on the recommendations from the 2013/2014 detailed assessment of EI overpayments to improve the analysis of EI payment accuracy. It also seeks to better establish the root cause of errors to identify areas where additional training could be required and clarify policies and procedures by providing feedback to appropriate stakeholders.

4.1.2 Employment Insurance Processing Accuracy Review

The EI Processing Accuracy Review (EI PRAR) comprises a review of a random sample of approximately 18,500 initial, renewed and revised decisions per year. PRAR verifies that applications for benefits are adjudicated and calculated in accordance with national operational policies and procedures and estimates the rate of conformity with them. The Department implemented the quality monitoring program in 2000/2001 to measure the percentage of initial claims “in order” (a claim was considered to be “in order” when all criteria relevant to the review of the claim were met). In 2005/2006, Service Canada set a national EI PRAR target of 80%. Footnote 26

In 2014/2015, the processing accuracy rate Footnote 27 increased to 88.5% from 87.9% in 2013/2014, meeting its target this year and every year since 2007/2008. The PRAR remains an important means of ensuring that EI claims are processed consistently and that Canadians applying for EI benefits are receiving equitable outcomes across the country.

4.2. National Quality and Coaching Program for Call Centres

Implemented in 2008, the EI Specialized Call Centre's National Quality Assurance Program (NQAP) was established to ensure consistent, high quality service to clients through the regular monitoring and coaching of agents. In 2010, the NQAP evolved and the monitoring report methodology adjusted based upon the lessons learned after two years of operation. The NQAP further evolved and subsequently was transitioned to the National Quality and Coaching Program (NQCP) in order to support the introduction of the National Agent Assist Line (NAAL) in 2013. The NAAL is a resource available to call centre agents in which Business Expertise Advisors (BEAs) support agents in responding to client enquiries by providing advice and guidance, when required. Prior to the NAAL, Business Expertise advice and guidance was managed locally.

Implementing a national solution in managing calls received on the agent assist line further supports the government's focus on service delivery to Canadians.

NQAP Service
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  • 2008

    NQAP Pilot

    • Initial pilot of the Quality program

2010 Q3

  • NQAP Redesign
    • Improved scoring grid.
    • Changes to program structure.

2013 Q1

  • Evolution to the NQCP
    • Monitoring frequency changes.
    • Adjustments to monitoring methodology.
    • Delineation between quality and coaching reporting.

The NQCP ensures call centre agents are monitored in a consistent manner and that clients receive high-quality service. Agent calls are monitored on an ongoing basis and regular feedback is provided to agents. Coaching and training plans are tailored to individual agents’ needs. Additional monitoring is then done to ensure that agents continue to improve their performance. A statistically valid sample of calls in the EI network is monitored as part of the NQCP to ensure that agents provide accurate and complete information.

In 2014/2015, a total of 4,653 calls were monitored resulting in an overall quality score of 84%, surpassing the target of 80%. The quality score is comprised of the following elements:

  • Accuracy and completeness, including fact finding with the client, client authentication, providing accurate and complete information and taking appropriate measures;
  • Professionalism, including displaying patience, demonstrating confidence, language and vocabulary, voice quality, guiding the conversation and providing information in an organized manner; and,
  • Promotion of other services and channels, including electronic service delivery.

Although the quality tool does not currently provide a breakdown for each element of the score, efforts to improve business intelligence related to quality monitoring and the various sub-elements are ongoing.

In order to maintain the integrity of the NQCP, national calibration sessions are held on a regular basis. Calibration is a crucial component of the program as it ensures that calls are evaluated with uniformity. The calibration session process involves BEAs listening to a call centre agent as a group. Following the call, they proceed to rate the call individually using the NQCP scoring grid. Once everyone has completed their evaluation, a facilitator will ask each participant to share his or her score to determine if all participants fall within the ±5% target band. The call is then discussed among the group and the facilitator ensures that everyone has an opportunity to provide feedback. The intent is to identify the variance that exists in the BEA team, particularly with respect to the way the BEA hear what is in the call and the way they rate it. As such, it ensures consistency in the interpretation and application of the call scoring grid and the element definitions among Business Expertise Advisors.

In addition to the quality program, a statistically valid sample of processing transactions (including those performed by processing and call centre agents) is assessed via the PRAR program to ensure that transactions are processed properly. In 2014/2015, the processing accuracy for EI call centre agents was 91.1%, well surpassing the target of 80%.

4.3. Insurability of Employment

The Minister of National Revenue is responsible for the administration of Part IV (Insurable Earnings and Collection of Premiums) of the Employment Insurance Act. This responsibility includes the issuance of rulings regarding the insurability of employment, the number of insurable hours and the amount of insurable earnings.

Service Canada requests rulings from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) when a claim for EI benefits has been filed and the insurability of employment, the amount of insurable earnings or the number of insurable hours, is in question. Rulings are requested whenever necessary to ensure that a claimant receives the amount of EI benefits to which he or she is entitled. The CRA aims to issue a ruling within 15 calendar days when payment of a claim is pending and within 31 calendar days when payment is not pending. In 2014/2015, Service Canada requested 8,213 rulings from the CRA, an 11% decrease from 2013/2014.

5. Integrity

Canadians expect sound stewardship and accountability of the EI program. The Department has well-established activities, processes, frameworks and tools in place to prevent, detect and manage error, abuse and fraud. Together, these strengthen the integrity of its programs and ensure operational and service compliance. Service Canada also places significant emphasis on the importance of protecting the information entrusted to it by Canadians.

5.1. Integrity Activities

The Integrity program in Service Canada focuses on detection activities using a variety of approaches. These include the Computer Post Audit, the Report on Hirings Program and Automated Earnings Reporting Systems, which help identify errors, omissions, fraud and abuse.

As part of the Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs initiative, Service Canada also carries out outreach and prevention activities, such as Claimant Information (CI) Sessions, which inform claimants about EI requirements and the consequences of abusing the EI system (e.g., penalties or prosecutions). In 2014/2015, Service Canada held over 10,000 CI Sessions, to which over 168,000 EI claimants were directed to attend. Claimants in receipt of regular or fishing benefits are identified and directed to CI sessions based upon local job-demand in their previous occupation and availability of work. These claimants are compared to a random sample of claimants with similar attributes who are not directed to information sessions (e.g. control group), thereby helping to determine the effectiveness of being directed to a CCAJ session. Attendance at these sessions is mandatory; however, claimants have an opportunity to reschedule. Should claimants not attend, or fail to provide evidence of participating in active job search, their EI benefits could be stopped.

During these sessions, claimants were provided with information on programs and services available to help them find suitable employment, as well as reminded of their rights and obligations and the consequences of misuse of the EI program. EI claimants directed into CI information sessions had on average one fewer week of benefits paid than those not directed to report and were approximately 1.3 times more likely to report having found work.

During this same year, Service Canada conducted close to 290,000 investigations into suspected error and fraud. The most common type of client error involved incorrectly declaring work and earnings. The most common type of misrepresentation (when client knowingly or unknowingly misrepresenting facts) included failing to declare work, earnings, or self-employment income; failing to declare periods when unavailable to work; and, failing to report absences from Canada.

Combined, these activities resulted in a total of $351 million in savings for the EI Operating Account (see Chart 12). These savings consist of recovered overpayments and associated penalties, as well as the discontinuation of future ineligible payments, benefitting both employee and employer premium payers alike through the reduction in the total cost of the EI program.

There are several methods that Service Canada uses to recover funds from EI recipients who have been overpaid. These include automatic recovery of active EI benefit claims (full or an agreed upon partial deduction), voluntary cash payments or collection of the debt by the CRA through an agreed upon repayment schedule. Where the client is capable of paying but collection efforts have failed, Service Canada can recover monies owing through an income tax refund or income tax reversal, as well as through a garnishment of wages, other income or bank deposits. As a last resort, Service Canada can seek federal court certification where the court converts the money owing from an EI overpayment into a civil judgement debt, recoverable by seizure of assets.

Chart 12 - EI Total Savings from Integrity Activities*
Show Data Table
2010-11 (Nat $453.5M) 2011-12 (Nat $385.6M) 2012-13 (Nat $438.5M) 2013-14 (Nat $383.0M) 2014-15 (Nat $350.8)
ATL 58.6 49.5 52.9 43.9 39.5
QC 114.6 98.3 121.6 105 100.2
ON 125.7 107.8 120.4 97.9 87.0
W-T 130.2 99.1 115 113.6 88.7
NIS ** 24.4 30.9 28.6 22.6 35.4
  • *The numbers have been rounded to the nearest hundred thousand. The national amounts (Nat) have been caculated using the raw data.
  • ** NIS: Cases dealing with unreported absences from Canada while on EI, as well as the Report on Hirings program, are centrally managed through Integrity's National Investigative Services (NIS) centre in Miramachi, NB
  • Source: EI Adminstrative data

5.2. Integrity Quality Initiatives

To support the achievement of its mandate to prevent, detect and manage fraud and abuse of the EI program, a national quality team helps ensure consistency in integrity investigation activities. Its work includes ensuring that every region has quality advisors and coordinators, incorporates quality management plans in business planning, and conducts consistent monitoring based on the Employment Insurance Act and national integrity procedures.

Overall, the accuracy of the Social Insurance Registry (SIR) is fundamental to all Social Insurance Number (SIN)-enabled programs, including the EI program, as accurately identifying clients is crucial to ensuring that benefits are paid to the correct and eligible individuals. The Social Insurance Number (SIN) program supports this effort through the use of strict quality management practices designed to ensure that clients applying for a SIN or updating their SIN records are properly identified. A review of updates performed in 2014/2015 concluded that 99.99% of SIN updates performed were free of critical errors (i.e., no multiple SINs were issued and no date of birth errors were made), compared to 99.98% achieved in 2013/2014, thus maintaining a high level of quality.

5.3. Risk Management

Enhancing program integrity is fundamental to delivering citizen-centred service, meeting the expectations of Canadian citizens, maintaining public trust and confidence in government, preventing and identifying incorrect payments including both under and overpayments.

In 2014/2015, Service Canada continued to use risk-based strategies to improve the overall integrity of the EI program and to ensure that correct payments were made to eligible claimants. As part of this activity, the Department has a robust risk analysis function to quantitatively and qualitatively assess program integrity risks, to better understand the root cause of mispayments and to develop appropriate mitigation strategies, including implementing additional controls when required, to address any identified vulnerabilities.

In 2014/2015, EI integrity risk management activities focused on completing the root cause analysis component of the EI Stewardship Review, along with predictive risk modelling. The root cause analysis was undertaken to identify the root cause of issues leading to incorrect payments in the EI Program due to external error, abuse and fraud. Results will serve to focus Departmental efforts on developing further mitigations focused on prevention through the use of predictive analytics and by embedding integrity interventions within the program design. Where benefit claims have been identified for investigation, predictive risk modelling has proven successful in identifying which of those cases pose a higher risk. In turn, this allows the Department to allocate integrity resources to higher risk cases, thereby helping to prioritize investigation activities, and minimize the investigation of EI claimants.

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