The government does not contribute a penny to the Employment Insurance program. It is fully financed by the contributions of employees and employers. This has not prevented the Liberals and the Conservatives from dipping into the EI fund over the years to use the money for other purposes, including reducing the deficit. Ultimately, they appropriated $57 billion of accumulated surpluses between 1996 and 2008.
Employment Insurance fraud amounts to roughly 0.7% of the EI benefits paid out each year. By comparison, tax evasion through the use of tax havens represents between 3.2% and 4.7% of the federal government’s tax revenues.
Claimants receive only 55% of their insurable weekly earnings, to a maximum of $514 per week. This minimal revenue itself serves as an incentive to find a job quickly.
Tens of thousands of people have experienced delays in processing their employment insurance file as a result of staffing cuts imposed on Service Canada by the Harper government.
There are six times as many unemployed as there are job vacancies in Canada. To reduce unemployment, it is not sufficient to be “connecting Canadians with available jobs”, as the Conservatives claim.
The Employment Insurance system in Canada is failing workers. Most unemployed Canadians now don’t get EI benefits when they need them.
Reforms in the 1990s, changes made by the Harper Conservatives, and a system that has not kept pace with the changing labour market have resulted in fewer and fewer workers qualifying for EI benefits. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.