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.”