Feds back down on EI changes

James McLeod
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New system penalized some people for working

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The federal government is backtracking on changes to employment insurance, and essentially admitting that a pilot project in place this summer would actually discourage people on claim from looking for work.

In a news release sent out after

5 p.m. Friday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced the government will be making changes to the Working While on Claim program.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the new EI Working While on Claim pilot project,” said Finley. “We have listened to those concerns and today I am announcing our intent to make adjustments to the new pilot program.”

Those concerns came in the form of a steady drumbeat of criticism from opposition MPs in recent months.

Under the old system, workers working on claim would get EI payments clawed back after they earned more than $75 or 40% of their total payment — whichever was better.

Under the new system, introduced this summer, workers would only get 50% of earnings clawed back, but it started with the first dollar earned.

In many cases, this meant that if a worker was only taking a small amount of work, or a low paying position, they would get more money by not working.

The latest change takes effect in January, and workers will have to decide whether they want to be governed by the old rules or the new rules.

If they opt for the old system and they worked this summer, they may be entitled to receive retroactive pay.

But the changes are designed to discourage workers from flipping back and forth between the old system and the new one.

A spokeswoman for the department of Human Resources and Employment said all the details will be made available through Service Canada, and people making an EI claim will be advised on which system is best for them.

One of the politicians who’s been making noise about the problem is Liberal MP Scott Andrews.

He greeted the late-afternoon announcement as good news, but he also said this won’t be the end of the conversation when it comes to EI.

“My instant reaction is we’ve been on this for the last month, and the last three or four months,” Andrews said. “We are going to stay vigilant when it comes to EI changes, because there are other ones coming, and we have to make sure they don’t impact our residents.”


Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Department of Human Resources and Employment, Service Canada

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    April 02, 2013 - 23:49

    This program is too complicated to understand, but after a long time trying to figure out how it affected me, I realized that I would be working for less money. We need to get rid of Harper.

  • Duffy
    October 08, 2012 - 16:48

    The government better not mess with the Welfare System for those that work a couple weeks a year! Gee what would it be like to work all year ?

  • no more abuse
    October 08, 2012 - 11:01

    if you refuse a job ed, then you should be cut off. i had to leave my home province and so should you if you get a call for a loader operator out west. sorry about your personel reasons why you want to stay in new brunswick, but at one time i faced the same situation and now have a great paying job and lots of money to visit my home province of newfoundland/labrador when i want too.

  • yo mama
    October 08, 2012 - 10:18

    Winston Tizzard......sad as it may be, you are absolutely right, I also have had to deal with a shortage of baymen, asking for layoff's in the spring, only to return home, drink beer and smoke weed all summer, throwing every last penny around only to return in the fall without a pot to piss in, never would I take them back. These baymen are the epitome of why we are not liked or wanted anywhere in western Canada. How embarrasing......at least they got their Grand-am's, Sun-fire's and Cobalt SS waiting for them again in the spring....with empty tanks of course.

  • Christopher Chafe
    October 08, 2012 - 07:39

    Totally Disgusted that Harper would backtrack on the only GOOD thing he has done since the majority!

  • Concerned
    October 08, 2012 - 07:29

    Harper better back out of the Loan Guarantee. This project is taking away our freedom, our freedom to work and spent our money on whatever we need, especially our necessity for electricity. Most people here in this province cannot afford it now what going to happen if this project is given the go. When is the people of this province going to rally against this backward project.

  • ed gouchie
    October 07, 2012 - 19:52

    I work hard all summer im a heavey equipment operator, i get laid off every winter not because i wont to. I have bills and dont wont to lose my house. i need my EI . i DONT WONT TO MOVE OUT WEST.I have a grade 8 schooling ,andbeen working since i was 15 .It took mea lone time to get what i got, and its from hard work i dont go on vacation, and no time off work all summer , i need oil ,fire wood and ect to keep my house running. Idont get tax brake or gst .every thing is going up but not my pay. so for that Harper shouldent pick on us little guys trying our best to keep hour homes AND stay in new Brunswick , he thinks we should all move out west until no one is left in New Brunswick what is wrong with this guy he knows nothing about US NB . I vOT HARPER OUT......

    October 07, 2012 - 18:46

    i bet the liberal/ndp mp's in the province will find someting to whine about. i have to agree winston some newfoundlanders go to the mainland for work, then find a way to get a layoff or quit leaving their job to go home to collect EI. this is whats wrong with the program and in my view a complete abuse of the system. i am a newfoundlander living in westerned-canada making an excellent wage/living and wouldn't think of going back home until i reach my retirement age.

  • John
    October 07, 2012 - 17:20

    If Newfoundland is booming so much like the politicians are saying it is, why are we wasting all this time and energy debating changes to EI. Simply get a job and you will never need EI. There is jobs everywhere down there. That is what the rest of Canada understands to be the case.

  • Winston Tizzard
    October 07, 2012 - 15:52

    Generally I believe that EI is a political tool used to buy votes. It is not a tool designed to provide assistance to people through no fault of their own are without work. Whats in my craw are the individuals (they know who they are) who each year come to Calgary and other locations, earn very high wages for summer months and then quit or arrange to be laid off and return home to collect UI on the unsuspecting tax payer. The same thing next year and thereafter. This is a joke in Calgary and I am ashamed at times to be an ex Newfoundlander. Make no mistake these jobs are year round jobs, the oil fields do not shut down when winter arrives.

  • Dwayne Cull
    October 07, 2012 - 15:33

    "Backtracking" !!! Thats a first for Harper............