From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Official title: Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2020 and ending March 31, 2021: Introduction

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As per Section 3 of the Employment Insurance Act, the Employment Insurance Commission is pleased to present this report to Parliament. Its objective is to monitor and assess the impact and effectiveness of benefits and other assistance offered under the Employment Insurance (EI) program. The intention is to provide a clear understanding of the impact of EI on the Canadian economy and the way it works to address the needs of Canadians.

The Employment Insurance program

The program provides temporary income support to replace part of a person’s employment income. It is available for people who are eligible, unemployed, and contribute to the program. The support is available while they search for work, upgrade their skills or are absent from work due to specific life circumstances.Footnote 1

EI Part I provides direct income support through EI Regular Benefits, Fishing Benefits, Work-Sharing Benefits and Special BenefitsFootnote 2. EI Part II provides Employment Benefits and Support Measures (EBSMs). This includes those offered under the Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) and the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program.

Through the income benefits funded through Part I and the EBSMs funded through Part II, workers across Canada are provided support for optimal employment transitions.

EI regular benefits provide temporary income support to partially replace lost employment income for eligible claimants while they search for work or upgrade their skills. To qualify, individuals must have worked a minimum number of hours in insurable employment, paid EI premiums and had a valid job separation. Individuals must be available for and actively seeking work during their claim period.

EI provides fishing benefits to qualifying self-employed fishers who are actively seeking work. Unlike EI regular benefits, eligibility is based on earnings, not insurable hours of employment.

Work-sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for EI benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.

EI special benefits provide support to employees or self-employed persons who are sick, pregnant, recently gave birth, caring for a newborn or a newly adopted child, or caring for a family member who is critically ill, injured or requires end-of-life care.

Employment Benefits and Support Measures include programs delivered under EI Part II to help individuals in Canada prepare for, find, and maintain employment. These help to “help maintain a sustainable Employment Insurance system through the establishment of employment benefits for insured participants and the maintenance of a national employment service”. The provinces and territories deliver these programs through LMDAs. In the case of pan-Canadian programming, the Government of Canada is responsible for program delivery.

Employment Insurance – 80 years















The Canada Employment Insurance Commission

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

The CEIC has 4 members. Three are voting members and represent the interests of workers, employers and government. The Commissioners for Employers and Workers are appointed for renewable terms of up to 5 years. Their mandates are to represent the concerns and positions of workers and employers on policy development and program delivery related to EI and the labour market. The Deputy Minister of ESDC represents the federal government and acts as the Chairperson of the CEIC. The Senior Associate Deputy Minister of ESDC acts as the Vice Chairperson, with voting privileges only when acting on behalf of the Chairperson.

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

In another key role, the CEIC contributes to the financial transparency of the EI program. Each year, it commissions an EI premium report from the Chief Actuary and prepares a summary report. It delivers both reports to the Minister as well as the Minister of Finance for tabling in Parliament. The CEIC also sets the maximum insurable earnings, according to legislative requirements. As of 2017, the CEIC is responsible for rate-setting based on a 7-year-break-even principle for the EI Operating Account.

The CEIC advises on which EI appeal decisions to send for review by the Federal Court of Appeal. The Commissioner for Employers and the Commissioner for Workers serve in a tri-partite committee with the chair of the Social Security Tribunal. The Minister consults this committee regarding Governor-in-Council appointments of members for the EI section of that Tribunal.

The Report

ESDC and Service Canada produce the Employment Insurance Monitoring and Assessment Report under the direction and guidance of the CEIC. The report relies on many sources of information to give a thorough analysis of the impact and effectiveness of the EI program. Sources include EI administrative data, Statistics Canada survey data, internal and external analytical reports and peer-reviewed evaluation studies.

The first chapter discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on the Canadian economy and labour market throughout FY2021. The second chapter studies the usage, impact and effectiveness of EI Part I benefits during the same period, including the impact of the EI temporary measures that were in place. The third chapter assesses supports provided under EI Part II through Employment Benefits and Support Measures. In FY2021, provinces and territories had to adapt their LMDA funded services and programs to remain effective while operating within the constraints of the pandemic. This entailed a rapid shift, both for staff and clients, from walk-in access and in-person delivery to service by mail, phone and virtual communications platforms. The fourth and final chapter on EI program administration and delivery presents information on how Service Canada responded to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

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