Ottawa takes the wraps off proposed changes to employment insurance

Labour Minister Diane Finely says Canada's economic prosperity depends on the country's ability to meet emerging and growing labour market challenges.

Finley says changes announced Thursday to the Employment Insurance program will help employers find workers and Canadians find work.

''We want to help Canadians who want to work get back to work,'' she said. ''These changes that we are proposing to EI are not about forcing people to move across Canada, or to take work that doesn't match their skill set.''

For so-called long-tenured workers who have been mostly employed the past 10 years, the new rules will require that they accept a job within their usual occupation as long as it pays at least 90 per cent of their previous hourly wage.

The worker must become less choosy and willing to take a lower-paying job _ within 80 per cent of their previous pay _ after 18 weeks being on the system, however.

For frequent EI claimants, the rules will be far stricter, the government says.

Canadians who have been on the system at least three times for a total of 60 weeks over the past five years will be expected to take a similar job that pays at least 80 per cent of the previous rate. But that's only for six weeks _ after that they would be required to take any job they are qualified for at 70 per cent of the previous pay.

The government has also created a third, in-between category called occasional claimants. They will need to accept work that pays at least 90 per cent of their previous scale in the first six weeks, 80 per cent in the next 12 and 70 per cent after 18 weeks on benefits.

The majority of claimants _ 58 per cent _ fall in this category, the minister said.

The government said it will also make it easier for the unemployed to find work by issuing them two ''job alerts'' a day by email informing them of available work.

As well, the government intends to link the EI system with the temporary foreign workers program to ensure Canadians are aware of employers' needs for workers.

The President of the Alberta Federation of Labour , Gil McGowan calls the proposed changes which are expected to take effect early next year as a blow to working Canadians.

McGowan says the Harper Tories are simply taking care of their big business buddies, forcing people to take jobs they don't want or they are not qualified or over qualified for.

NDP critic Peggy Nash accused the government of scapegoating unemployed Canadians and suggesting they are not trying hard enough to work.

Statistics Canada reports close to 550 thousand Canadians are collecting E.I. a number that has held rather steady since the fall.

The new rules are expected to be in effect early in 2013.

660News, Thurs May 24 2012

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.