The Employment Insurance section of the Government of Canada’s website is posted on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020. Further changes to Canada’s employment insurance system will take place on Sunday. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jesse Johnston
The EI system is set for another round of pandemic-related changes that take effect on Sunday. Here are some of the main changes that will apply to new benefit claims submitted as of September 26.
Employment Insurance claimants must have worked a minimum number of hours to be eligible for benefits. In the past, this number was around 600 hours, although the number varied in different parts of the country depending on local labor market conditions.
Many workers saw their hours cut back during the pandemic, which means they may not have worked enough hours to qualify.
Over the past year, all new EI claimants have been given a one-time top-up to help them qualify, but that disappears on Sunday. In its place will be a uniform requirement to have worked 420 hours.
The requirement for uniform hours will be in place for one year, until September 24, 2022.
The government is also again requiring a medical certificate proving that a claimant is sick and cannot work to receive EI sickness benefits. The requirement has been temporarily lifted over the past year due to COVID-19.
The weekly benefit floor will be reduced from $ 500 to $ 300, in line with the value of the Canada Restoration Benefit payments that are available to those who are not eligible for EI.
The weekly floor should apply to claims made between September 26 and November 20.
The duration and value of benefits will be recalculated using regional unemployment rates which have been temporarily replaced over the past year by a uniform unemployment rate of 13.1%.
EI officials will also use simplified rules for severance and vacation pay so claimants can start receiving benefits earlier. Payments can delay the onset and value of benefits.
However, there will still be a week of waiting before benefits are paid for any new EI claims after the waiting period is canceled in the past year.
Stay the same
Anyone already claiming employment insurance will not see any change in the value or duration of their benefits with these new rules.
In addition, seasonal workers in 13 regions will still be eligible for an additional five weeks of EI regular benefits until October 2022.
The pilot project offers additional weeks to seasonal workers who started a claim between August 5, 2018 and October 30, as long as they have had three regular or fishing claims in the past five years, and ‘at least two started around the same time of year.