By Gabriela Perdomo - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 0 Comments
Canada’s federal government announced new rules for those seeking Employment Insurance today.
Canada’s federal government announced new rules for those seeking Employment Insurance today.
Among other things, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley explained how the term “suitable employment” has been re-defined.
From the Globe:
The Conservative government unveiled a sweeping overhaul of Canada’s Employment Insurance system, creating three new tiers of job hunters that will most directly affect repeat users of the program.
(…) Canadians will be expected to broaden their search the longer they remain on EI.
The unemployed will be divided into three categories, depending on how frequently they file EI claims. They will be: Long-tenured workers, Occasional, and Frequent. The new changes will mostly push those in the latter category to broaden their job search quickly after becoming unemployed, which could mean accepting lower paid positions and jobs located as far as one hour away, or longer “in communities where longer commuting times are the norm.”
Last week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had begun preparing the ground for today’s EI announcement as he declared that, “There is no bad job, the only bad job is not having a job,” and added a personal touch to it: “I drove a taxi, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Diane Finley has just now explained how the government plans to reform employment insurance. The official news release and backgrounder is here.
Early reviews are in from the Globe.
The Conservative government unveiled a sweeping overhaul of Canada’s Employment Insurance system, creating three new tiers of job hunters that will most directly affect repeat users of the program. The new rules will mean less generous terms for frequent users of EI, while giving Canadians who rarely use the program more leeway to look for jobs in their field.
Unemployed Canadians will face tougher requirements to hang on to their Employment Insurance benefits under a new crackdown by the Conservative government. The intent of the changes is to push unemployed Canadians off the insurance rolls and into the workforce, even if it means they must accept lower-paying jobs or work they might not want.
And the CBC.
The longer and more frequently someone is claiming employment insurance, the broader their job search will have to be and the lower the wages they must be willing to accept, according to proposed regulations outlined this morning.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has scheduled an announcement for 10:30 this morning at which she might explain what the government plans to do with employment insurance. In the meantime, Jason Kenney invokes the one-hour rule.
“I think the idea is, that within your own local community, within say an hour’s drive or so, if there are unemployed workers receiving EI and they’re not applying for jobs that are available at their skill level then there’s a mismatch,” he said, “And we want to solve that problem.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM - 0 Comments
“I guess it is particular to each region. I mean, you know, I don’t think that it would be proper or it would be reasonable to expect someone from Fredericton or Saint John to commute to Moncton for a job daily,” Valcourt said. “You know it doesn’t make sense. So we’re talking communities and surrounding communities. What is reasonable? The details are not out yet.”
It’s about a two-hour drive from Fredericton or Saint John to Moncton.
Valcourt said he knows many people in the northwestern city of Edmundston, who commute about 30 minutes to St. Leonard for work. But he said he wouldn’t expect people to travel to Woodstock, which is about two hours south of Edmundston.
“It’s the custom and if the economic fact of life of the region is for people to work in their community and the surrounding communities. I don’t think it would be proper to force people to travel to other areas in the province to get a job,” he said. “There are hundreds of small- and medium-sized business be it in Fredericton or Moncton or Saint John as we speak that are looking for employees. i think what is aimed and the objective here is to connect those people that want to work with available jobs in their communities and the surrounding communities.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 2:12 PM - 0 Comments
Ashfield said people will no longer be able to turn down job opportunities within an hour’s drive if they expect to collect benefits. “It’s not to force people to go to Alberta, it’s not to force people to, you know, drive for four hours, or move away from their home community. That’s not the intent at all,” Ashfield said.
Setting a clear geographical rule of a one hour’s drive would bring clarity to one of the most debated and subjective section of the current EI rules. However Conservative officials told the Globe and Mail that the minister was only speaking in general terms to make the point that Canadians on EI will not be expected to move.
John Ivison still seems to think an hour commute will be the rule.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM - 0 Comments
At more than 400 pages, and containing more than 700 clauses, it’s providing plenty of fodder for opposition parties
On March 16, 1994, the Liberal government of the day tabled Bill C-17, an act to amend certain statutes to implement certain provisions of the budget. Nine days later, a new Reform party MP, elected just five months before, rose on a point of order to complain. The bill, he said, was “of an omnibus nature,” containing measures that dealt with disparate issues: public sector compensation, transportation subsidies, the CBC, employment insurance and payroll taxes. “In the interest of democracy I ask: how can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?” the young Stephen Harper wondered aloud. “We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse?”
Though the rookie MP’s words were not enough to derail that year’s budget bill, his words live on, cited more than 18 years later to taunt a Prime Minister whose government is now accused of abusing Parliament with a budget implementation act that dwarfs the bill that so troubled the rookie MP. But Bill C-38 doesn’t merely invite inconvenient comparisons. It sets the stage for a great—and potentially defining—battle between the new majority government and the newly realigned official Opposition.
“On this one issue I actually agree with Stephen Harper,” NDP House leader Nathan Cullen told reporters at a news conference this month. “It is inappropriate to put so many sweeping changes to so many different areas in the budget bill. The Conservatives are trying to hide from the oversight and the accountability that Canadians deserve.” The budget implementation act currently before the House of Commons—quite literally, at least in theory, the legislation necessary to implement the government’s budget—measures more than 400 pages and proposes to amend dozens of acts of Parliament. Among other things, it deals with environmental regulations, resource development, employment insurance, Old Age Security and immigration policy.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 5:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash was very nearly pleading. ”Will someone in the government,” she asked, “please outline right now what constitutes suitable employment?”
In Ms. Nash’s moment of need it was Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, who stood. ”Mr. Speaker, I actually have some examples here of what constitutes suitable employment,” he reported.
At last, clarity seemed at hand. ”A mining company in Newfoundland is looking to hire 1,500 people in St. John’s, Newfoundland, through the temporary foreign worker program,” Mr. Menzies explained. “There are 32,500 people looking for work right now. That is why we are trying to make EI more effective to help these mining companies get people to employ.”
What precisely was the minister of state suggesting here? That if you are presently looking for work you might soon be expected to strap on a helmet lamp and make for St. John’s? And are there really only 32,500 people in this country presently looking for work?
There were chuckles of incredulity from the opposition side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
In an interview with the CBC yesterday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley was pressed again about what the government intends to do with the Employment Insurance powers provided for in the budget bill.
“We haven’t announced those details yet. We want to make sure the legislation gets through first.”
Later in the interview, she said “regulations have to be developed after legislation.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 6:16 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. For all of the budget bill’s pages and clauses—more than 400 of the former and more than 700 of the latter—opposition MPs seem strangely at a loss. So very many pages and yet still they cry out for more.
“Mr. Speaker, until now the Conservatives had refused to come clean on how much they plan to cut from old age security,” Thomas Mulcair reported this day as if reading the evening news. “Finally yesterday, when asked whether the Conservative cuts would take about $10 billion out of the pockets of Canadian seniors, the Minister of Finance said: ‘I’ve heard that number. I’ve heard $12 billion also, something in that area.’ ”
Staring across the aisle at one minister in particular, Mr. Mulcair moved for the quip. “I guess,” he said, “it is not just the Minister of Defence who has arithmetic problems.”
Peter MacKay nodded mockingly.
“Would the Prime Minister refresh the memory of his Minister of Finance,” Mr. Mulcair finally asked, “and table the full cost of his Old Age Security Cuts?”
The problem here was apparently one of wording. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
While deferring to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley for further details of what the government plans to accomplish with its unexplained budget bill amendments to employment insurance, Jim Flaherty hints at new expectations for the unemployed.
“There’ll be a broader definition and people will have to engage more in the work force,” said Mr. Flaherty, who then pointed to his own résumé from his student days at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “I was brought up in a certain way. There is no bad job. The only bad job is not having a job. So I drove a taxi. You know, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living.”
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney offered similar sentiments last month.
The federal government wants to reduce disincentives to work and create a “greater connection” between the EI program and the temporary foreign worker program, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the National Post editorial board this week. ”If you don’t take available work, you don’t get EI,” he said. “That’s always been a legal principle of that program.”
Under the proposed reforms, unemployed Canadians who are receiving EI would be required to accept local jobs that are currently being filled by temporary foreign workers … ”Nova Scotia provincewide has 10 per cent unemployment, but the only way Christmas tree operators can function in the Annapolis Valley is to bring in Mexicans through this agricultural worker program,” Kenney told the National Post.
The budget bill includes a reference to “suitable employment,” but the definition of suitable has not yet been explained. More from the Star.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Seven years ago, the Liberal government of the day tabled a budget implementation act that included legislation related to the Kyoto Protocol. As Elizabeth May noted earlier this week, the leader of the opposition at the time was unimpressed.
I also want to raise questions about the budget implementation act that was tabled today. We have several concerns on this, most notably the amendments that would give the government unlimited power to implement Kyoto without ever bringing a plan to Parliament. This is a back door manoeuvre to give the government a blank cheque. It is a dangerous way of proceeding. It will certainly not have the support of this party. If the government has a Kyoto plan, why does it refuse to present it to Canadians?
This complaint seems similar in substance to concerns now being raised about EI provisions that the Conservative government has included in its latest budget implementation. Which is ironic because the leader of the opposition in 2005 is now the leader of the government.
In the case of the 2005 budget bill, the Liberals, under threat of defeat, eventually withdrew the Kyoto provisions.
As noted here previously, the Young Stephen Harper opposed omnibus legislation on principle.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government is using the budget implementation act to give itself new, unexplained powers to regulate employment insurance.
The measure is contained inside the budget implementation bill and would give cabinet the power to change employment insurance rules later through regulation without the approval of Parliament. Yet, even though the provision is currently before MPs, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is refusing to explain its purpose other than to say further details will be announced over the coming months.
The budget bill reached the floor of the House yesterday, with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver leading the debate. Peggy Nash offered the response for the NDP. Scott Brison responded for the Liberals. Shortly thereafter, Peter Van Loan rose and gave notice of a motion of time allocation that will see the bill come to a second reading vote on May 14.
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM - 0 Comments
The Conservative government is looking to address the seeming paradox of high unemployment in…
The Conservative government is looking to address the seeming paradox of high unemployment in areas suffering shortages of labour. And they’re doing so by warning recipients of Employment Insurance that they may lose their benefits if they don’t pursue jobs that are being filled by temporary foreign workers.
“What we will be doing is making people aware there’s hiring going on and reminding them that they have an obligation to apply for available work and to take it if they’re going to qualify for EI,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the National Post. According to the newspaper, Kenney pointed to areas in Nova Scotia that, despite having unemployment rates of around 10 per cent, are bringing in people from Mexico to work at Christmas tree operations.
Last month’s federal budget pledged $387 million to align the delivery of EI benefits with labour market conditions. As the CBC reports, Canadian businesses that hire temporary foreign workers are already looking to domestic labourers before recruiting people from abroad. Ken Forth, the president of a non-profit organization that oversees the recruitment of foreign agricultural workers in Canada, told the CBC that 80,000 Canadians are employed at farms in southern Ontario, compared with 15,500 foreign workers.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley will soon address the changes in further detail, Kenney told the National Post.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
The anxious tone the Prime Minister recently injected into the debate on Canada’s economic competitiveness was picked up today and amplified by one of the country’s top business lobbyists—Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Beatty happens also to be a former Conservative cabinet minister from the long-ago days of Brian Mulroney’s government. So long ago, in fact, that he’s apparently forgotten how certain matters are not to be raised in polite political company. Like ending the way Employment Insurance rules favour perennially high-employment regions, notably parts of the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.
On a sensible list of 10 “barriers to competitiveness” laid out by Beatty in a news conference just off Parliament Hill, the Chamber’s plea for EI reforms to “improve fairness and increase incentives for the unemployed to return to work or relocate to find work” stood out. The very words send chills down spines around Ottawa.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM - 0 Comments
Greg Weston questions the existence of the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board.
But in all three years the board has been in existence, the Harper government has simply capped EI rates to spare Canadian workers from potentially huge premium increases. As a result, the rate-setting agency has yet to set a single rate.
The board’s other main responsibility is to invest any surplus EI funds. That has never happened, either. Since the government started capping EI contribution rates, the employment insurance program has been running a deficit now totalling almost $9 billion.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 5:17 PM - 4 Comments
In response to this post, the office of Human Resources Minister Diane Finley sends along the following.
As announced in August, Service Canada will improve the way in which EI claims are processed by introducing further automation to an increasingly outdated and paper-based system. This will happen over the next three years. With continuous improvements to the way that we do business – such as increased automation, improved online services, and a nationally-managed approach to the distribution of workloads – Service Canada is positioned to manage service demands in a more cost-effective way. Modernizing our services will mean changes to the way we currently do business but ultimately will allow for better services for Canadians.
Canadians expect their hard-earned tax dollars to be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. The government of Canada is working hard, on behalf of Canadians, towards eliminating the deficit, returning to balanced budgets and improving the services we deliver. Over the course of the year, and dependent on labour market conditions and other factors, there may be fluctuations in the volume of Employment Insurance (EI) applications which could affect the speed of pay from one week to the next. We continue to carefully monitor the number of claims to make sure that we provide the best possible service to Canadians who are in need of benefits.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 1:28 PM - 20 Comments
Bob Rae appeals to economics.
A premium is a tax, and payroll taxes discourage hiring. Make no mistake, payments to people who have no work is essential, and a hallmark of a decent society and an effective automatic stabilizer for the economy. But how we pay for them should be the subject of a serious debate. The Liberal Party is calling today for a freeze on employment insurance premiums, and a review of the tax into the future. The payroll tax increases planned by the Conservatives will put a new tax burden of 1.2 billion on businesses and workers just as the economy is slowing down. It is a very bad idea, and the Conservatives should change course.
We need to go further and address the income tax code itself. Like their other favourite statute, the Criminal Code, the Conservatives cannot resist tinkering with endless boutique tax credits and changes that respond to the flavour of the month politics that is now the hallmark of the political right. These credits are rarely refundable, which means that those who really need help don’t get it. Out of the roughly 25 million tax filers in Canada, eight million do not have enough income to pay taxes. Those are the people who need these tax credits the most and they are the ones who don’t even get to apply.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM - 10 Comments
The Liberals have persisted these last several weeks in asking the government side to cancel an increase in EI premiums scheduled for next year. The government side has persisted in ignoring these questions.
Today though, the Finance Minister will apparently announce that the planned increase will be halved.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM - 3 Comments
Move reflects concern over unemployment levels
The federal government is resizing an increase of employment insurance premiums scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, reflecting mounting concern in Ottawa about rising unemployment. Under the government’s original plan, announced last fall by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, EI payroll premiums would have risen by 10 cents per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and 14 cents for employers, the Globe and Mail reports. Today, though, Flaherty is expected to announce that the increase will be kept at the same level of the one that took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, or five cents for employees and seven cents for employers.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:44 AM - 11 Comments
Scott Clark and Peter DeVries take on EI premiums.
Simply put, the EI premium rate is a bad tax – probably the worst tax that the government has available to raise revenues. It inhibits employment and economic growth; it is unfair in its impact on low-income workers; it is extremely complex to calculate and administer…
The best option would be to get rid of the EI premium rate altogether and replace it with an alternative source of revenue. One way this could be done is by replacing the lost revenues, about $20 billion, by increasing the GST and corporate income tax rates. This would address the problem of the working poor by spreading the burden over much larger tax bases. In addition, the GST low-income tax credit could be increased, sheltering these individuals altogether.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 2:12 PM - 7 Comments
Jack Layton promises new family care initiatives.
Under the program, families hoping to build a self-contained, add-on unit for an elderly relative would be entitled to a forgivable loan that would cover half the cost of renovations up to a maximum of $35,000. Mr. Layton also promised to extend EI benefits for people looking after a dying relative to six months — up from six weeks — and to introduce a new, up-to-$1,500-a-year caregiver benefit to help struggling low and middle class families who are looking after a sick or injured loved one. He further vowed to close the loophole that prevents Canadians who have accessed maternity, adoption, sick or other leave from accessing regular EI benefits should they lose their jobs when they return.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 4:34 PM - 11 Comments
If re-elected, the Tories would offer a two-year extension of the capital cost allowance, which is currently set to expire at the end of the year.
The program allows businesses to accelerate the timing of their capital cost deductions by 50%, deferring taxation and improving financial return on investments in new equipment and machinery.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM - 49 Comments
The federal government was preparing last December to deal with the “the prime minister’s decision” to do away with the long-form census.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: Less reliable data would “compromise their ability” to determine EI eligibility, assess skills development and retraining, and apply the federal-provincial agreement on labour mobility.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada: “Absence of reliable long-form data will not allow them to effectively manage, evaluate, and measure performance of programs in areas of aboriginal health, housing, education, and economic development.”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada: A broad range of programs dealing with selecting and settling immigrants, including a pan-Canadian agreement on foreign credentials would be hit. “A question in the long form on country of educational attainment specifically provides information to support this program.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
WELLS: The Liberals find a hope of beating Harper. But will it work?
“Have you seen our home care package? It’s being unveiled as we speak,” a Liberal party guy told me outside a Starbucks in downtown Ottawa. He showed me his BlackBerry, which was displaying something official-looking. “Focus groups are jumping up and down over this.”
That wasn’t hard to believe. That morning in Gatineau, Michael Ignatieff had announced a $1-billion program to help people care for aging relatives at home. More and more of us have aging relatives, so the Liberal plan addresses a real concern. The Liberal plan would use Employment Insurance to give caregivers half a year off work with modest pay. That’s the way parental leave benefits already work. Another element in the program would pay a tax benefit of up to $1,350 a year to people providing home care. That’s how the Canada Child Tax Benefit works.
So: a program designed to address a perceptible need in an aging society. Proven delivery mechanisms. Modest cost. (No, really: on $280 billion in program spending, $1 billion is modest. It cost a lot more than that to hold a summit meeting in Toronto this summer.)
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Ignatieff proposes new home care benefits.
At present, home-care providers in Canada can only obtain six weeks of EI benefits—and only then if they can prove that the person in their care is expected to die within 26 weeks. Liberals say that if they’re elected, those benefits will be expanded to six months and the terminally-ill condition will be removed … Liberals estimate that about 30,000 people in Canada will take advantage of their proposed improvements to EI benefits, compared to approximately 5,000 who are now using the six-week provision to stay at home with ailing relatives … The cost of expanding these EI benefits would be about $250-million a year, Liberals say.
At a cost to the federal treasury of about $750-million a year, Liberals are proposing to send monthly cheques, totaling up to a maximum of $1,350 a year, for people who are caring for sick or elderly relatives at home. As many as 600,000 people could be eligible for these cheques, Liberals estimate.