Feds announce changes to EI calculations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the press outside Rideau Cottage on Wednesday, March 25./Facebook

The federal government has announced one of many measures it will be taking to transition Canadians from the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to EI over the coming months.

Effective Sunday, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent will be applied temporarily for all EI regions across Canada.

The unemployment rate is used to calculate eligible EI benefits. Under the EI program, the number of weeks you can receive the benefit depends on the unemployment rate in your region at the time of filing your claim and the number of insurable hours you have accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim.

Raising the minimum to 13.1 per cent will mean more Canadians are eligible for benefits longer.

In regions with an unemployment rate higher than 13.1 per cent, the higher number will be used.

For regions with a lower unemployment rate, 13.1 per cent will be used to calculate benefits. The change means the minimum EI entitlement will sit at 26 weeks of benefits and the number of best weeks of earning used in the calculation of the weekly benefit rate will sit at 14.

The national unemployment rate for July 2020 was 10.9 per cent. In Saskatchewan, it was 8.8 per cent

“This temporary measure will establish minimum entry requirements for EI eligibility across the country for Canadians to access the income support they need now or might need later as we continue to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19, the federal government wrote in a press release.”

It said this step was one in a serious to be announced in the coming weeks to transition residents from emergency measures back into the EI system and labour force.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has taken action to support Canadians and businesses facing financial hardship,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough.

“As we carefully and gradually restart parts of our economy, we recognize that many Canadian workers continue to face challenges. The temporary use of a national minimum unemployment rate for the EI program will help more people access EI regular benefits and provide eligible Canadians with access to a minimum 26 weeks of benefits.”