To qualify for employment insurance benefits, applicants must show that they were previously employed for between 420 and 700 hours depending on the local unemployment rate. To receive benefits, they must file a claim stating that they are without work, are willing to work and are registered at the Human Resource Centre. Following a waiting period of 2 weeks (new claims only), individuals are eligible to receive 55% of average weekly insured earnings up to a maximum in 1997 of $413 per week. The number of weeks for which benefits can be claimed varies, depending on the length of previous employment, previous employment insurance claims, and the national and regional unemployment rate.
The employment insurance system is an important component of the economic safety net provided by government and there is little disagreement, in principle, that it has provided greater income security for Canadians. Among economists, however, there is substantial concern that specific features of the existing system may create unemployment. For example, it has been argued that the relatively short qualifying period may encourage individuals who would not choose to work, were it not for the prospect of also collecting benefits, to enter the labour force; and that unemployment is higher than it should be among those employed in seasonal industries because it may be easier to collect benefits than to look for other work during the off-season.
Author D.A. SMITH
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Labour History
This website documents the history of the labour movement and labour reform in Canada. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.