Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report 2014/2015  Introduction

Monitoring and assessing the Employment Insurance program helps provide a clear understanding of its impact on the Canadian economy and its effectiveness in addressing the needs of Canadian workers, their families and their employers.

1. The Employment Insurance program

The Employment Insurance (EI) program provides temporary income support to workers who have lost their job for reasons outside their control while they look for new employment or upgrade their skills, and helps unemployed people across the country find employment. The EI program also provides temporary financial assistance to workers who are sick, pregnant, caring for a newborn, newly adopted or critically ill child, or caring for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

The Employment Insurance program marked its 75th year in 2015, having been implemented in 1940. The last major reform occurred in 1996. At that time, the program changed its name from “Unemployment Insurance Program” to “Employment Insurance Program” to better reflect its primary objective of promoting employment, and to better emphasize that access to the program is linked to significant work attachment.

2. The Canada Employment Insurance Commission

The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) has the legislated mandate to annually monitor and assess the EI program. To do this, the CEIC oversees a research agenda that supports the preparation of its annual Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report. At the end of each fiscal year, the CEIC presents the report to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, who then tables it in Parliament.

The CEIC makes regulations under the authority of the Employment Insurance Act, with the approval of the Governor in Council. In addition, the CEIC plays a key role in overseeing the EI program, reviewing and approving policies related to program administration and delivery. EI program operations are carried out, on behalf of the CEIC, by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), which also includes Service Canada.

In another key role, the CEIC contributes to the financial transparency of the EI system. Annually, it commissions an EI premium report from the Chief Actuary, prepares a summary report and conveys both reports to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and the Minister of Finance, also for tabling in Parliament. The CEIC also sets the annual maximum insurable earnings, according to legislative requirement. Legislation has been passed which will confer rate-setting responsibility on the CEIC, starting with the 2017 EI premium rate.

The CEIC advises which EI appeal decisions will be submitted for judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal. Additionally, two of the Commissioners-namely the Commissioner for Workers and the Commissioner for Employers-serve in a tri-partite committee with the chair of the Social Security Tribunal. The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour consults this committee regarding Governor in Council appointments of members to the EI section of that Tribunal.

The CEIC has four members, three of whom are voting members representing the interests of workers, employers, and government. The Commissioner for Workers and the Commissioner for Employers are appointed for terms up to five years by the Governor in Council, and they can be appointed for a new term. They have responsibilities to represent and reflect the views of their respective constituencies, reflecting internally, within ESDC, the concerns and positions of workers and employers on policy development and program delivery related to EI and the labour market. To do this, they establish working relationships and engage in consultations with private sector organizations and individuals interested in and affected by ESDC programs and services, particularly with regard to EI. The Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development, representing government, acts as the Chairperson of the CEIC, while the Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development acts as the Vice-Chairperson and has voting privileges only when acting on behalf of the Chairperson.

3. Legislated mandate

Section 3 of the Employment Insurance Act gives the CEIC the legislated mandate to produce the Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report annually:

"3. (1) The Commission shall monitor and assess the impact and effectiveness, for individuals, communities and the economy, of the benefits and other assistance provided under this Act, including:

(a) how the benefits and assistance are utilized by employees and employers, and

(b) the effect of the benefits and assistance on the obligation of claimants to be available for and to seek employment and on the efforts of employers to maintain a stable workforce.

(2) The Commission shall report to the Minister on its assessment annually no later than March 31 following the end of a year. The Commission shall make any additional reports at any other times, as the Minister may request."

4. The Report

The Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report is produced under the direction and guidance of the CEIC. ESDC officials (including those from Service Canada) support the CEIC in preparing the report. The report relies on multiple sources of information to provide a comprehensive analysis of the EI program, including administrative data, Statistics Canada survey data and peer-reviewed evaluation studies, as well as internal and external reports. The Report therefore provides valuable information and evidence with respect to the EI program and the labour market.

This year's Report focuses on the responsiveness of the EI program during the 2014/2015 fiscal year, a period marked by moderate economic growth and a slight downward trend in the unemployment rate, despite a sharp decline in oil prices, which resulted in a contraction of economic activity in some regions late in the fiscal year. The first chapter discusses the state of the Canadian labour market over that period. The second chapter analyzes the usage, impact and effectiveness of EI benefits provided chiefly under Part I of the Employment Insurance Act for the same period. The third chapter assesses the support provided to unemployed workers through active re-employment programs and services, under Part II of the Employment Insurance Act, known as Employment Benefits and Support Measures. The fourth and final chapter presents information on EI program administration and service delivery. To celebrate the EI program's 75th anniversary, an overview of the program, which among other things showcases some of the program's key historic milestones, has been included in this edition of the Report. This overview precedes the first chapter.

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