What You Need to Know About How the Recent Changes to EI Affect Your Clients

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits provide temporary financial assistance to eligible claimants while they are looking for work. Several EI changes came into effect January 6, 2013. How do they affect your clients who are looking for work while receiving regular EI benefits?

What’s changed?

  • A new labour market information service. Job Alerts is a free email service to inform job seekers about new job postings in their area. This new service will provide claimants up to two job listings every day, instead of the previous three advertisements every two weeks. Registration is open to anyone (not just EI claimants) through the Working in Canada website.
  • New categories of EI claimants. Regular EI Claimants are now categorized into three groups according to their previous EI premium contributions and claim history. Each category determines what type of work claimants are required to seek and accept.
    • Long-tenured workers: claimants who have contributed at least 30 per cent of the annual maximum EI premiums for at least 7 out of the last 10 years, and received 35 or fewer weeks of EI regular benefits over the last 5 years.
    • Frequent claimants: claimants who have had three or more regular or fishing claims AND received more than 60 weeks of these benefits in the past five years.
    • Occasional claimants: regular EI claimants who do not fit in the above two categories.

The claimants’ categories will determine the type of employment they are expected to accept based on their previous occupations and wages as well as the duration of their claims. For example, occasional claimants are expected to accept work in the same occupation that pays at least 90% of their previous earnings up to six weeks into their claim (including waiting period), 80% for work in a similar occupation up to 18 weeks, and 70% for any work thereafter.


Source: www.bcac.bc.ca/sites/bcac.localhost/files/Changes%20to%20EI.pdf


  • New job search requirements: While claimants continue to be required to look for work and keep a record of their job search efforts, a new definition of “reasonable job search”  is now assessed by Service Canada based on several criteria including:
    • Job search activities including preparing a resume, registering for job banks, searching and applying for jobs, attending job fairs, and other efforts.
    • Availability of employment opportunities where claimants reside and commuting time will be taken into account.
  • New definition of suitable employment: In addition to the two variable criteria outlined above, Service Canada has redefined four criteria it will use to determine suitable employment:
    • Claimant’s health and physical capabilities: Whether the claimant’s health and physical capabilities allow the claimant to commute to the place of work and perform the work involved;
    • Hours of work: The extent to which the hours of work at a place of employment are compatible with the claimant’s family obligations or religious beliefs;
    • Nature of the work: Whether the nature of the work is compatible with the claimant’s moral convictions or religious beliefs;
    • Commuting time: The daily commuting time to or from the place of work is not greater than one hour or, if it is, not greater than the claimant’s commuting time during their qualifying period.

The new EI regulations stipulate that claimants are not expected to accept employment that results in being worse off financially than collecting EI benefits.

The EI changes do not affect individuals who are claiming EI special benefits for maternal, parental, compassion and sick leave.

For specific details regarding the EI changes, refer to Service Canada’s Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs General Information Session for Stakeholders.

Information about EI Regular Benefits can be found here.

For a printer-friendly version of the above article, see the PDF file.