|EI changes will impact many in the region|
|Local Content - Editorial|
|Written by production|
|Wednesday, 23 January 2013 20:53|
As many Canadians were focused on whether our neighbours to the south were going to go over the 'fiscal cliff', with worry about how poor American decision-making and governmental bickering would impact our own economy, a forgotten-about piece of legislation has now come into effect and will impact many job-seekers in the country.
On Jan. 1, the staunch new Employment Insurance regulations, which Human Resource Minister, Diane Finley announced in May, took effect.
The changes caused a stir in May and it surely will again, particularly with seasonal workers.
The new rules stipulate people collecting EI must be seeking “suitable employment” and conducting “reasonable job searches.”
Suitable employment would consider commuting time, hours of work, and wages.
A suitable job search would include preparing resumes, registering for job banks, attending job fairs, applying for jobs, and undergoing competency evaluations.
Health, physical capability, family obligations, and transportation would also be considerations.
So far, so good, right?
The problems come with the next changes. Job seekers are now being compartmentalized into two groups; those who pay into EI, but rarely make a claim and those who are regularly collecting EI.
Those who fall in the second category must take any position they are qualified for and accept a 30 per cent cut in pay if they do not immediately find a position similar to the one they were previously doing.
The same rule does not apply for those job seekers from the first category. A frequent claimant refers to somebody who has collected benefits for 60 weeks or more in the last five years.
For workers in many industries, the rules will have little effect, but for those working in agriculture, tourism, construction, and other seasonal industries, the new rules could have great consequences.
The reasoning for introducing the regulations in the first place may be to simply weed out those who jump from job to job and are considered ‘abusers of the system,’ but many good, hard-working folks will be impacted by this. There are concerns that people working in seasonal jobs will end up taking a lower paying job in a different industry and may not return to their previous jobs.
Those who think the regulations will not amount to much may want to reconsider that sentiment.
Our region relies on seasonal workers particularly in our agricultural sector. These workers are not easily replaced and often have specialized training.
The federal government boasts the new rules will save the EI program $12.5 million this year and $33 million next year in benefits. That is a lot of benefits not being paid, including to construction and agriculture workers but if workers are taking lower paying jobs they will pay less taxes and are likely to seek assistance through other programs such as welfare. It’s not like those who have collected EI as seasonal workers are just going to disappear.
The federal government also expects to spend $7.2 million a year just to police the system, ensuring people are complying with the new rules.
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