Canada releases report on Phase 2 of Employment Insurance modernization consultations

Employment and Social Development Canada

Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program is a critical part of Canada’s social safety net. It plays an important role in supporting workers during temporary periods of unemployment and in stabilizing the economy during economic hardships. That is why the Government of Canada is working with unions, employers and other stakeholders to modernize the EI program, so that it is fairer, more flexible and more responsive to the needs of current and future workers.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission’s Commissioner for Workers, Pierre Laliberté, and the Canada Employment Insurance Commission’s Commissioner for Employers, Nancy Healey, announced the release of a What We Heard report, summarizing the key takeaways from the second and final phase of the EI modernization consultations.

Phase 1 consultations ran from August 5, 2021, to February 17, 2022, and focused on gathering input from interested Canadians and stakeholders on the changing nature of work, access to EI, simplifying EI, self-employed and gig workers, life events, seasonal work and the Premium Reduction Program.

Phase 2 consultations ran from April 29 to July 29, 2022. Building on the information gathered during the first phase, Phase 2 focused on gathering input on the adequacy of EI benefits and the financing of the program. It also took a deeper dive into areas discussed in Phase 1 that required additional examination. This included supports for self-employed workers, workers in seasonal industries and the Premium Reduction Program.

The views of stakeholders were consistent throughout the consultations. Worker groups voiced the need to prioritize increased access to EI. They noted that benefits are currently not adequate for meeting the needs of recipients, in particular for lower income workers. Employers recommended that EI modernization changes should not place additional financial burdens on businesses. They also expressed the importance of ensuring that the program encourages workers to return to work, especially in light of current labour shortages.

The Government is committed to delivering a better, more inclusive Employment Insurance program. It is currently analyzing the input received in both phases of the consultations to develop and put forward a path for the modernization of the EI program informed by the valuable input of stakeholders, Canadian workers and employers. The Government expects to announce details of this plan in the coming months.

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