Employment Insurance

Res #: 29-05A
Number: 29
Year: 2005
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Resolution No. 29-05A

WHEREAS, most municipal outside employees such as grader operators, utility maintenance persons, mower operators, etc. are seasonal employees and are laid off during the winter months; and

WHEREAS, employment insurance premiums are deducted from payment of gross wages; and

WHEREAS, the Employment Insurance Act was implemented to provide a form of income security benefit to employees facing seasonal layoffs, job termination, etc; and

WHEREAS, the employment insurance benefit premiums collected now seems to be for making money instead of helping workers who have been laid off, quit, terminated, etc. than for a security benefit to workers;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby the Federal Government to make changes to the employment insurance benefit regulations that all seasonal employees which are employed year after year should not be forced to apply for other employment during the layoff season; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the employment insurance benefit premium collected by the Federal Government be used strictly for the purpose and intent that it was implemented for.

Response from Hon. Belinda Stronach, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada:

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is committed to ensuring that the EI program remains responsive to the needs of Canadians. This is why the program is assessed each year to ensure that it responds to these needs. Allow me to explain that the primary purpose of EI is to provide temporary income support to insured workers in case of involuntary unemployment. In determining entitlement to EI regular benefits, claimants are required to prove that for any day for which they claim benefits, they were available and capable of work, yet unable to obtain suitable employment. Availability for work depends on a willingness to accept any offer of employment to which one is suited by skill, training, aptitude or experience, on a determined effort to look and search for employment, and on a willingness to accept working conditions for which there is demand in the labour market. In this respect, seasonal workers are expected to search for temporary jobs in occupations in which there is some hope of obtaining work while waiting for seasonal activities to resume.

The Government of Canada recognizes that some regions and groups of workers, such as seasonal workers, face unique circumstances and challenges. In view of this, a number of adjustments have been made to the EI program in order to accommodate the unique circumstances of seasonal workers. For example, in 2001, the intensity rule, which reduced the benefit rate of repeat claimants, was removed and the clawback provision was adjusted. With regard to EI premiums, you may be aware that they have been reduces every year since 1994. On December 6, 2004, the government announced that the 2005 EI premium rate would be reduced to $1.95 per $100 earnings, down from $1.98 in 2004, representing the 11th consecutive annual reduction in EI premiums. Compared to the 1994 rate of $3.07, the 2005 premium rate of $1.95 represents saving of $485 for employees and $679 for employers. Moreover, as a result of this rate reduction, employers and employees will pay $10.5 billion less in premiums in 2005 than they would have paid under the 1994 rate.

 I would also like to clarify that the EI Account is not an account containing cash. It is an accounting method that keeps track of premiums and benefits. The EI Account has been consolidated with the accounts of Canada since 1986 on the advice of the Auditor General at the time. As a result, any annual surplus of deficit in the EI Account affects the government's bottom line.