Change to the Employment Insurance waiting period begins January 1, 2017
December 21, 2016
Starting next month, the Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period will be shortened from two weeks to one week. This measure is part of the Government of Canada's robust plan to improve the EI program and help Canada's middle class and those working hard to join it.
The waiting period acts like the deductible that must be paid for other types of insurance. Shortening the waiting period is expected to ease the financial strain for EI claimants and will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually beginning next year.
For example, for an eligible claimant who is laid off and subsequently finds work after 12 weeks, the change means that up to 11 weeks of EI benefits will be payable whereas only up to 10 weeks are currently payable. The reduction of the waiting period applies to all types of EI benefits—regular, fishing, sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, parents of critically ill children, and special benefits for self-employed individuals.
While claimants are still entitled to the same maximum number of weeks of EI benefits, the waiting period may have indirect implications for workers and employers who have top-up arrangements that supplement EI. Reducing the waiting period shifts forward the period during which EI benefits are payable. In some cases, employer payments that supplement EI maternity and parental benefits may be aligned to the two-week waiting period and the reduction of the waiting period may have impacts for workers or employers.
The Government of Canada has taken steps to mitigate the potential impact on employers' and workers' sickness plans by providing time for employers to adjust these plans and providing measures to minimize the impacts on workers' EI benefits.
This measure is the latest in a series of changes to EI announced in Budget 2016. These include: eliminating EI eligibility requirements that restricted access for new entrants and re-entrants to the program; simplifying job search responsibilities; temporarily extending EI benefits in 15 EI economic regions; introducing a more flexible Working While on Claim pilot project; and extending the Work-Sharing agreements. Consultations on EI service quality and maternity, parental and caregiving benefits were held with key stakeholders and the public to seek their input on ways to improve the EI program so that it is better aligned with today's labour market and is responsive to the needs of Canadian workers and employers.
"By shortening the waiting period, we are taking a concrete step to ease financial pressures for claimants who have lost their jobs or who leave work for health reasons or family pressures."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Employment and Social Development Canada