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EI Regulations amended to extend and create new pilot projects

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Regulations to amend the Employment Insurance Regulations have been published in the Canada Gazette to extend the Best 14 Weeks pilot project until 2013. The Working while on Claim pilot project is being replaced by the new pilot project to encourage claimants to work more while receiving EI benefits. These Regulations are now in force.

Best 14 Weeks

The Best 14 Weeks pilot project was scheduled to end on June 23, 2012. The amendment will extend the project until April 6, 2013, in the same 25 economic regions to test behavioural changes in anticipation of the new method and to bridge the gap until the new method comes into force. The new approach may involve an increase in the number of weeks used to calculate the benefit rate.

The new permanent national approach to calculating employment insurance (EI) benefit rates based on the availability of work in each region of the country (Variable Best Weeks) will come into force effective April 7, 2013.

Working while on Claim

Results to date suggest that when the allowable earnings threshold is increased, claimants adjust their behaviour to work just up to the new threshold. The full exemption from the clawback on the first day of earnings created an incentive to work, while the 100 percent clawback for work beyond a day meant there was no net financial benefit from working more than one day as earnings were offset by deductions. Essentially, the pilot project did not encourage claimants to accept all available work due to the clawback.

Thus, this project will end on August 4, 2012.

A new pilot project (established according to changes passed in the federal Budget 2012) has been created to cut the current clawback rate in half and apply it to all earnings made while on claim until claimants earn 90 percent of the earnings used to establish their benefit rates. The government will test this new approach to create incentives to accept more available work while receiving benefits from August 5, 2012, to August 1, 2015. The project will reduce a claimant’s benefits by 50 percent of their earnings while on claim starting with the first dollar earned. This ensures claimants will benefit from accepting more available work.

There will be no change to the treatment of earnings during the waiting period. The pilot project applies to claimants receiving regular, fishing, compassionate care and parental benefits, as well as self-employed persons claiming compassionate care and/or parental benefits.

Christina Catenacci
First Reference Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Christina Catenacci

Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002 and has since been a member of the Ontario Bar Association. Christina worked as an editor with First Reference between February 2005 and August 2015, working on publications including The Human Resources Advisor (Ontario, Western and Atlantic editions), HRinfodesk discussing topics in Labour and Employment Law. Christina has decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Western Ontario beginning in the fall of 2015. Read more
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