Employment insurance: the duration of sickness allowance is increased to 26 weeks

Since Sunday, there have been changes in force for employment insurance recipients, including the duration of sick pay, which has increased from 15 to 26 weeks.

Ottawa estimates that 169,000 Canadians will be affected by these changes. However, the adjustment is not retroactive: only new requests will be affected by these changes.

According to the Interprovincial Employment Insurance Alliance, these changes are not generous enough.

Remember, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised it in 2015. Three terms later, his promise is still pending.

“A person who has to take time off work due to an accident will be compensated by CNESST at a rate of 90% of their benefits, while sick pay […] we replace the course with 55%”, explained the coordinator of Action populaire Rimouski-Neigette, Michel Dubé.

“We have come to the Liberal government that delivers the goods and keeps its promise, for his side sang the member for Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basque, Maxime Blanchette-Joncas.

“His promise is to present a comprehensive reform plan for employment insurance before the end of the year. And we will arrive there at the end of the year,” he added.

In total, the Interprovincial Employment Insurance Alliance has announced 13 demands for possible reform. Among the most important are:

  • Lower the employment insurance eligibility criteria from 700 to 420 hours
  • Increase benefits from 26 to 35 weeks
  • Increase benefit amounts by 55 to 70%
  • The state’s participation in the scheme

According to various unions, although we live in a context of labor shortages, “it would be illogical to ask seasonal workers to return to the labor market part-time in order to be eligible for employment insurance.”

“There is a shortage of employees everywhere, but take the months of June to September [le temps pour le travail saisonnier], everyone works. But when we get to the fall, people who already work all year round and seasonal workers [qui retourneraient] on the labor market … there is not enough work for everyone,” said Yves-Aimé Boulay of FTQ Bas-Saint-Laurent-Gaspésie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

“How many Tim Hortons are already closed? They’re open year-round! There’s already a shortage of staff when you can work year-round. Imagine in the seasonal business when we know it takes us 700 hours [pour être éligible à l’assurance-emploi]”, added Pauline Bélanger, from the Central Council of Bas-Saint-Laurent CSN.

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