Saskatchewan Chamber Advocates for Employment Insurance ReformSeptember 28, 2022
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada introduced a series of temporary measures to make Employment Insurance (EI) more accessible and generous for Canadian workers. As of September 24, 2022, these temporary measures have been lifted. In addition to the spike in unemployment triggered by the pandemic, this increased accessibility of EI has resulted in a significant deficit for the program, sparking concerns over the future of EI premiums. In addition, the Government is also conducting a consultation on Employment Insurance exploring ways to enhance the program.
Over the last few months, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC) has participated in government-led consultation meetings, sent letters, and made a formal submission on this issue to ensure that the voices of Saskatchewan businesses are being heard by the federal government.
On behalf of the Saskatchewan business community, the SCC has been urging the federal government to prioritize fiscal sustainability and accountability, equitability for fund contributors, and regional consistency.
- Financial sustainability: The current deficit (estimated to be $33.9B by end of 2022) in the EI fund should be paid in full by federal government general revenue. It is unreasonable for employers—who pay a disproportionate amount—and employees to pay off the current debt triggered by the exceptional, unilateral expansion of the program during the pandemic.
- Eligibility and accessibility: Access to EI should be consistent across all regions and provided based on contributions. This would include the option for self-employed individuals to opt-in to the program, should they choose to contribute both as an employer and employee.
- Equitability and duration: The maximum length of an EI claim should be consistent across Canada, with a tiered distribution of benefits introduced to incentivize a prompt return to work.
- Replacement rates and indexing: EI recipients should continue to be eligible for 55% of the annually indexed maximum insurable earnings on a tiered, sliding scale.
EI is an important program, however, it must be further reformed to provide financial stability to Canadians during periods of short-term job loss, while supporting their re-entry into the labour market. EI can most effectively fill this role in the long-term if managed and delivered as intended – as an insurance program.
Want to learn more? Read our submission to the federal government here.