Federal government sets minimum unemployment rate for EI program

CARLA Qualtrough, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced on Monday that effective August 9, 2020, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% will be applied temporarily for all Employment Insurance (EI) economic regions across Canada.

In taking this action, the government is recognizing that the pandemic continues to make labour market conditions uncertain and unpredictable across the country. When individuals begin transitioning off of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) back to EI regular benefits at the end of this month, those living in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while individuals living in regions with a higher unemployment rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual rate for that region.

This temporary measure will establish minimum entry requirements for EI eligibility across the country for Canadians to access the income support they need now or might need later as Canadians continue to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

This is the first in a series of steps, to be announced in the coming weeks, that will help eligible Canadians transition from emergency income measures back into the EI system and into the labour force as we work together to best position our country for a strong economic recovery, Qualtrough said.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has taken action to support Canadians and businesses facing financial hardship. As we carefully and gradually restart parts of our economy, we recognize that many Canadian workers continue to face challenges. The temporary use of a national minimum unemployment rate for the EI program will help more people access EI regular benefits and provide eligible Canadians with access to a minimum 26 weeks of benefits,” she said.

Quick Facts

* Employment Insurance regular benefits provide income support to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job.

* This temporary measure will set a uniform eligibility requirement for EI regular benefits, provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of benefits, and set the number of best weeks of earnings used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate at 14.

* Normally, a claimant can qualify to receive EI regular benefits from 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, depending on the unemployment rate in the region where they reside at the time of filing their claim and the amount of insurable hours accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since their last claim, whichever is shorter.