Legal News

Proposed Changes to EI, Elimination of Board of Referees

Bill C–38, the Government’s omnibus budget bill, proposes a number of significant changes in relation to Employment Insurance.

Amendments to the Employment Insurance Act will allow Government to define what constitutes “suitable employment for different categories of claimants” and to establish “criteria for defining or determining what constitutes reasonable and customary efforts” for job seekers receiving EI.

In advance of Royal Assent of the Bill, Government has released its intended changes in relation to the definitions of “suitable employment” and “reasonable job search”.

“Suitable employment” will be based on six criteria: personal circumstances; working conditions; hours of work; commuting time; type of work; and hourly wage. The first four criteria will be applicable to all applicants while the latter two will vary with the duration of the EI claim and the frequency of EI claims made by the applicant.

A “reasonable job search” will include researching and assessing job prospects; preparing resumes; searching for vacancies; attending interviews; as well as networking and attendance at workshops and job fairs. The job prospects in a particular area will influence which aspects will be emphasized. For example, a large city with more available jobs may require more applications while smaller communities may require more emphasis on research and assessment. Government also intends to send job postings to jobseekers twice a day from both internal and private posting services, rather than its previous practice of once every two weeks.

The impact of the proposed changes remain to be seen. However, at the least, they are likely to affect temporary foreign workers by limiting their use in areas where Canadian EI applicants perform similar work.

In addition, the Bill proposes the creation of a Social Security Tribunal, with up to 74 full-time members to replace the current system of Employment Insurance Board of Referees and umpires.

Bill C-38 is currently in the process of completing second reading in the House of Commons.

Find information on the second reading of the Bill here

Find the Government’s Backgrounder on the changes to Employment Insurance here

Questions relating to the content of this article may be directed to Nicole C. M. Toye.