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Employment Insurance Changes Announced

May 24, 2012 Poverty Reduction

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government announced major changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (E.I.) system this morning.

According to the Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-sweeping-new-ei-rules-get-tough-on-repeat-users/article2442261/) the new rules “will mean less generous terms for frequent users.”

In addition, people will be expected to accept job openings that are an hour or more travel time from their homes.

In a significant change a sliding scale will define three categories of workers. The categories (long tenured workers, occasional and frequent users) will prescribe how much people in each classification will receive, how long they will receive it and what kind of jobs they are required to accept. The government anticipates that less than one per cent of claimants would be cut off due to the new rules.

The Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1183424--ei-reform-unemployed-canadians-face-crackdown-under-federal-changes?bn=1) reports that the government is earmarking $21 million over two years to help administer the changes to the EI system. Some of that total will be used to hire compliance officials to ensure recipients are following the new rules. This is interesting development in light of the length of time it has been taking to process claims in recent years.

For her part the Human Resources Minister Diane Finley says that “(t) hese changes are not about forcing people to accept work outside their own area, or taking jobs for which they are not suited.

Others like NDP finance critic Peggy Nash said the new rules are “scapegoating” as they seem to imply that the unemployed "are not looking hard enough for work.”

There will be much more to report on E.I changes in coming days.

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