Feds sets temporary unemployment minimum rate for EI program
The federal government has set a temporary minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent for all Employment Insurance (EI) economic regions across Canada effective retroactive to Sunday, Aug. 9.
This means that when individuals begin transitioning off of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program back to EI regular benefits, those living in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1 per cent will have their EI benefits calculated based on the 13.1 per cent rate. Meanwhile, those living in regions with a higher unemployment rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual rate for that region.
“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,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion. “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.”
The move will establish minimum entry requirements for EI eligibility across the country for Canadians to access income support and provides a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of benefits. It also sets 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. This depends 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.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that CERB recipients will be moved to the EI program, and that a series of steps will be announced in the coming weeks which will help eligible Canadians transition from emergency income measures back into the EI system and into the labour force.
“EI should cover every Canadian who is looking for work, and for those who don’t qualify for EI right now, like gig or contract workers, we will create a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to Employment Insurance,” Trudeau said.
In June, Trudeau gave the CERB program an eight-week extension. In April, the government expanded the CERB to cover more Canadian workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.