Recently, I announced improvements to the employment insurance program (EI) to ensure that it remains fair, flexible and supports Canadians as they look for work.
These changes are reasonable, common-sense efforts to help Canadians get back to work faster.
Following much fear-mongering from the opposition, however, let me be frank. These changes are not about forcing people to move. Nor are they about attacking certain industries or regions of the country.
We will not require that Canadians take jobs for which they are not suited or which are unreasonable based on their personal circumstances.
We will, however, help Canadians become more aware of the job opportunities that may exist in their local area, and increase the support that we offer to help them get back to work faster. EI is a temporary income support, and the legal requirements already exist for people to actively look for work while on claim. Our improvements will help them do just that.
Coming from a rural region myself, I fully appreciate that many local economies in Canada are based on seasonal industries. Many of these employers have told me of the significant skills and labour shortages that they are experiencing and their need to look off-shore for workers.
Employers will continue to have access to temporary foreign workers. However, they have always had to ensure that Canadians are hired first.
Our changes will strengthen the employers’ ability to hire locally, by ensuring that Canadians who are available and skilled have the first crack at those jobs.
It only makes sense.
I would like to clarify a final point. For people who are unable to find employment — either because opportunities do not exist or they are not a reasonable match — employment insurance will continue to be there for them, as it always has been.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Canadians are better off working, than not. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for employers — and most importantly, it’s good for Canadians and their families.
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development