Official title: Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2018 and ending March 31, 2019: Highlights
The Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report presents the analysis of the impact and effectiveness of the benefits and other assistance provided under the Employment Insurance Act during the fiscal year starting on April 1, 2018 and finishing on March 31, 2019 (referred to as the reporting period or FY1819). The highlights below relate to this period or reflect changes between FY1718 and FY1819.
FY1819 marked a slowdown in growth in Canada’s economy and labour market and a historic low in the national unemployment rate.
- Real gross domestic product grew by 1.8% in FY1819, down from the 3.0% growth seen in the previous year
- Canadian employment growth (+1.4%) was slightly lower than growth from the previous year (+1.8%). However, it was the third highest among G7 countries in FY1819
- The national unemployment rate decreased to 5.8%—the lowest level recorded since FY7677. The unemployment rate went down in all provinces and territories, except Manitoba and Northwest Territories where it increased slightly from last year
- In 2019, the EI premium rate for employees was set at $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings, a decrease of 4 cents from the 2018 rate of $1.66 per $100 of insurable earnings. Employers contribute EI premiums at 1.4 times the rate of employees
The number of new EI regular claims established remained relatively unchanged while the amount of EI regular benefits paid decreased significantly over the previous year.
- In FY1819, 1.29 million new EI regular claims were established in Canada, similar to the 1.30 million claims established in FY1718. Notable declines include Quebec (-14,600 claims) and Ontario (-9,500 claims), which were offset by increases in Alberta (+14,700 claims) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+4,500 claims)
- Total amount paid in EI regular benefits decreased by 15.6% over the previous year to $10.7 billion in FY1819. This is mostly attributable to continued favourable labour market conditions and the conclusion of the temporary extension measure for workers affected by downturn in commodity prices
Working While on Claim provisions became permanent in August 2018 and were extended to maternity and sickness benefits.
The eligibility rate for EI regular benefits reached its highest level over the past 10 years.
- Among unemployed individuals who had contributed EI premiums in the past 52 weeks and had a valid job separation, 87.4% were eligible to receive EI regular benefits in 2018, up 3.1 percentage points from 84.3% in 2017
- The eligibility rate increased for both men and women in 2018
A new pilot project came into effect in August 2018 to provide additional weeks of EI regular benefits to eligible seasonal workers.
- Eligible seasonal claimants in 13 EI regions who establish a claim on or between August 5, 2018 and May 30, 2020 could receive up to 5 additional weeks of EI regular benefits
Through Skills Boost, introduced in August 2018, EI claimants who are long-tenured workers and wish to participate in training may request permission directly from Service Canada to continue receiving EI benefits during their training.
- Between August 5, 2018 and March 31, 2019, Service Canada referred 900 claimants to continue receiving EI benefits while on training
The number of new claims and total amount paid increased for EI special benefits, with family caregiver benefits for children continuing to report the largest year-over-year percentage growth among all special benefits.
- The number of new claims established for EI special benefits increased to 606,500 (+1.6%) in FY1819, and the total amount paid in EI special benefits rose to $5.8 billion (+0.9%) in FY1819
- The number of new claims established for EI sickness benefits increased to 420,840 (+2.2%) in FY1819, and the total amount paid in EI sickness benefits increased to $1.8 billion (+3.4%) in FY1819
- The number of new claims established for family caregiver benefits for children increased to 5,475 (+11.3%) in FY1819. The total amount paid increased to $36.8 million (+20.9%) in FY1819
- In FY1819, the first full year that the family caregiver benefit for adults was in effect, 10,100 claims were established, and the total amount paid was $48.3 million
- Parents can choose between receiving standard or extended parental benefits. In FY1819, the first full year during which the extended parental benefit was available, 32,000 (or 16.0%) parental benefit claimants opted for the extended parental benefit duration
- The parental sharing benefit, which came into effect on March 17, 2019, offers additional weeks of parental benefits to eligible parents when parental benefits are shared. Parents can receive an extra 5 weeks of standard parental benefits, or an extra 8 weeks of extended parental benefits
Economic growth and labour market expansion contributed to an overall decline in the number of clients served and interventions delivered under EI Part II.
- A total of 695,610 clients (-2.8%) participated in approximately 1,067,991 interventions (-0.3%) across Canada
- Effective April 1, 2018, eligibility for Employment Benefits (e.g., training, wage subsidies) was expanded to include all unemployed individuals who have made minimum EI premium contributions. With the expanded eligibility, a new client group — known as Premium Paid Eligible (PPE) — was created to report on the unique characteristics of this clientele. In addition, eligibility for Employment Assistance Services was expanded to include all Canadians, whereas previous access was limited to unemployed Canadians
- The number of active EI claimants declined by 8.9% year over year, to a total of 286,197, while former EI claimants dropped by 12.1%, to a total 101,848
- Non-insured client counts also declined, by 16.0%, to a total of 240,075
- The drop in the non-insured client count can be in part attributed to PPEs, who represented 9.7% of all clients, or a total of 67,490 persons in FY1819
- In FY1819, a total of 859,051 Employment Assistance Services interventions were delivered, a decrease of 7.6% year-over-year. However, Employment Benefit interventions totalled 164,442 a significant increase of 16.0% compared to the previous reporting period
- With strong labour market conditions and a decline in EBSM interventions, the rise of Employment Benefits suggests provinces and territories have focused more on longer-term training and skills development interventions than in recent years, as opposed to short terms interventions
- There is also evidence that Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) provide active claimants the means to succeed in the job market and reduce poverty, through active employment programs
- Participation in LMDA-funded programs provides tools to help overcome labour market challenges in local economies. For instance, they help active claimants recover from job loss and leave poverty. This is particularly true, where income after program participation not only recovers, but surpasses the previous highest income level prior to job loss
Building on last year’s accomplishments, Service Canada implemented a series of measures to further improve services to EI clients and enhance their overall client experience:
- Continued the investment of Budget 2016 through Budget 2018 to further improve EI clients access to EI call centres agents:
- Agents accessibility increased to 65.5% from 61.6% the previous year, well above the FY1516 pre-investment level of 30.6%
- Although it took slightly longer on average to speak to an agent (7.5 minutes versus 6.2 the previous year), wait times continue to be well below the pre-investment level of 13.6 minutes
- Moved the Employer Contact Centre to a modern telephone platform to provide employers with 100% accessibility to call centres (from 90.7%) and more informative self-serve options
- Conducted Web optimization projects to make online information more accessible and easier to understand for EI clients. This includes in web sites such as Caregiving benefits, Maternity and parental benefits, and Social Security Tribunal
- Introduced the Maternity and Parental Benefits Estimator to help EI claimants better understand the impact of their parental benefits choice on their payment
- Launched the Job Bank Mobile App to make job search more convenient for EI claimants
- Promoted diversity by including a non-binary X option on the EI application form
- Enabled the fishing industry employers to submit electronic Records of Employment
- Implemented the action plan of the Social Security Tribunal Review to make the Appeal process more accessible and client-centric:
- Reduced the wait for an EI first level of appeal from 227 days to 56 days
- Allowed EI clients to choose the hearing type they prefer
- Changed the requirements to start an appeal to reduce the burden on appellants and speed up the process
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