October 15, 2012
CNLA says it is continuing to push for a meeting and further resolution to the industry’s concerns on the recent changes to Employment Insurance (EI).

The new rules, announced on May 24, will take effect in early 2013.

Joel Beatson CLP, professional and business development manager at CNLA, received a letter from the minister responsible for the employment insurance program, Diane Finley.

“I had the chance to meet with many employers and employees to discuss the recent changes to Employment Insurance (EI),” writes Finley. “It was quickly clear how much confusion exists about the changes, partly because others have been spreading misinformation to scare people.”

She included a list of information points which she says will clear up what the changes are – and are not. “As I stated many times in my talks, these changes are reasonable and are based on common sense. We understand how important seasonal industries are to the Canadian economy. Yet we also know that many sectors are facing very real labour and skills shortages. That is why we need to make sure that the EI system better helps Canadians find work and supports them while doing that.”

The minister’s information points follow:
  • Employees will not be forced to move.
  • A temporarily laid-off employee will not need to take a job for which he is not qualified.
  • Maternity, parental, compassionate, and sick leave benefits are not changing.
  • The new system will allow employees to keep more money if they accept a job while collecting EI.
  • Personal circumstances will always be considered (area the recipient lives, if they have a car, and childcare responsibilities).
  • Changes do not target seasonal workers. The federal government recognizes the importance of seasonal industries.
  • If suitable jobs that match a laid-off employee’s qualifications do not exist in the area in which an employee lives, then EI will continue to provide support.
“Canadians want to get back to work. Statistics shows that those who stay active in, and remain connected to, the labour market find permanent employment faster. Our government is committed to supporting workers and ensuring that EI enables a strong and competitive workforce,” concludes Finley.

Beatson says, “We are still working on further clarification and trying to set up a face-to-face meeting to review our concerns with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (which administers EI). We’re allying with other seasonal industries to gather statistics on impact, etc.”

More information on the changes to EI, may be found at www.horttrades.com/changes-to-ei-program.