Official title: Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2019 and ending March 31, 2020: 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. The reporting period is the fiscal year starting on April 1, 2019 and ending on March 31, 2020 (referred to as FY1920). The highlights below relate to this period or reflect changes between FY1819 and FY1920.
FY1920 was marked by a substantial slowdown in economic activity. In March 2020 there was a sudden shock to the Canadian labour market due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Real gross domestic product grew by 1.4% in FY1920 down from the 2.2% growth recorded in the previous year. This low growth was mainly attributable to the economic shutdown in March 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic
- The Canadian labour market recorded a strong performance during most of the FY1920. From April 2019 to February 2020, growth in employment (+2.1%) surpassed the previous year (+1.6%). In addition, the average unemployment rate during this period reached its lowest level (5.7%) since 1976 when comparable data started to be collected
- In March 2020, employment fell by almost one million and the unemployment rate increased to 7.9% as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Youth, women and industries which involve public-facing activities (such as the Accommodation and food services industry) were the most affected by employment losses
- In 2020, the EI premium rate for employees was set at $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings. This is a decrease of 4 cents from the 2019 rate of $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings. Employers contribute EI premiums at 1.4 times the rate of employees
Both the number of new EI regular claims established and the total amount paid in EI regular benefits increased over the previous year.
- In FY1920, 1.37 million new EI regular claims were established in Canada. This is up from the 1.29 million claims established in the previous fiscal year (+5.8%). Most of the increase was observed in the last quarter of the fiscal year, and was particularly evident in:
- Alberta, and
- British Columbia
- The total amount paid in EI regular benefits increased by 3.7% over the previous year to $11.1 billion in FY1920
- Under the seasonal pilot project in the 13 EI economic regions, eligible seasonal claimants established just over 54,000 claims. These claimants received an additional $84.2 million in EI regular benefits. On average, each of these claims received an additional $1,540 and 4.0 weeks of EI regular benefits
The eligibility rate for EI regular benefits decreased from the previous year.
- Among the unemployed contributors who had a valid job separation, 84.2% were eligible to receive EI regular benefits in 2019. This was a decrease from the 87.4% rate in 2018
- The historically low unemployment rates in 2019, which translated into higher entry requirements to qualify for EI regular benefits, can partially explain the decrease. The decrease in eligibility mainly affected those who had part-time and non-standard employment
The number of new claims and total amount paid increased for EI special benefits. Parental benefits reported the largest year-over-year percentage growth among all special benefits.
- The number of new claims established for EI special benefits increased to 619,270 (+2.1%) in FY1920. The total amount paid in EI special benefits rose to 6.2 billion (+6.1%) in FY1920
- Parental benefits experienced the largest increase in new claims established (+6.4%) over FY1819. This increase is due to a rise in claims established by men. The additional weeks of benefits available since March 17, 2019 to parents who share parental benefits can largely explain the increase
Similar to last year, 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 652,267 clients (-6.2%) participated in approximately 1,010,565 interventions (-5.4%) across Canada in FY1920
- The number of active EI claimants served declined by 8.4% year over year, to a total of 262,196. At the same time, the number of former EI claimants served increased by 2.4%, to a total 104,333
- The count of the newest client type − Premiums Paid Eligible (PPE) − introduced in FY1819, has remained relatively unchanged, at 67,388
- The non-insured client counts declined, by 9.0%, to a total of 218,350
- In FY1920, a total of 770,725 Employment Assistance Services interventions were delivered, a decrease of 10.3% year-over-year
- However, Employment Benefit interventions totalled 197,907, a significant increase of 20.4% 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 a few years ago, as opposed to short-term interventions
- Participation in LMDA-funded programs provides tools to help overcome various labour market challenges. For instance, these programs help active claimants recover from job loss and leave poverty. However, analysis suggests these results are strongest for white men
Building on last year’s accomplishments, Service Canada implemented a series of measures to further improve and enhance its services for EI clients:
- Implementing the Hosted Contact Centre Solution (HCCS), a modern and supported technology. This allowed EI call centres to increase the capacity of the queue
- In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, developing new initiatives to respond to the changing needs of its clients. This provided alternative approaches to maintain service delivery. For example:
- launched the eServiceCanada portal as a replacement to the Service Canada Centre that were temporarily closed. The portal allows clients to submit an online request and to be contacted within 2 business days. From March 12 to 31, 2020, clients submitted 13,150 EI service requests
- engaged with Indigenous and remote communities to offer alternate service delivery options mechanisms
- offered virtual information sessions for both employers and employees affected by mass layoffs
- In January 2020, ESDC updated the EI sickness benefits web pages. The goal of the project was to improve the client experience and increase the success rate for clients through:
- simplifying content and using plain language
- revising the page layout for easier navigation
- Following these changes, testing showed that 65% of users were able to find and understand the information they needed. This is an increase compared to 44% before the updates
- As of June 29, 2019, claimants receiving Family Caregiver benefits have been able to use My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to view their claim information. MSCA also added an additional feature in December 2019. It allows claimants who have been approved for extended parental benefits to see what their extended benefit rate will be
- In FY1920 Service Canada put in place a new procedure to improve service to EI claimants. Processing officers can now send an email to ask the claimant to call them back if:
- the claim has missing information, and
- the processing officer cannot reach the claimant immediately by phone
- this simple but important change is allowing processing officers to deliver benefits in a more timely way by connecting more quickly with claimants
- As of March 31, 2020, ESDC had fulfilled its obligations in the Employment Insurance sickness benefits class action
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