CUPE Research Brief: Employment Insurance Usage Profile by Region and Gender

The Conservative government's omnibus budget (Bill C-38) changed much of the way the Employment System will run. Overall, the changes will alter labour market pressures in favour of employers offering low wage jobs. As a result of this bill, it has become even harder to qualify for Employment Insurance. Further, the process of appealing the decision has been changed to eliminate worker and employer seats on the appeals panels. Even before the budget changes, fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed workers qualified for EI even though they are unemployed through no fault of their own.

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CUPE Research has released a new brief outlining 2010 statistics on Employment Insurance use and the size of the impact that these changes will have in different regions. The impact of the changes will affect all workers that regardless of if they will receive Employment Insurance benefits, putting downward pressure on wages across all sectors and regions. However, certain regions and sectors that rely on seasonal or temporary workers will feel the effects more.[[../images/images/EIBenefitsgender.png/@@images/image/preview]]

Employment Insurance is paid-for by all workers as a support system for workers that lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The Employment Insurance system was originally designed to make sure that unemployed workers would be supported while they look for work which was appropriate for their skill level and to provide financial support for those in gap periods between seasonal work.

Changes to the employment insurance brought forward in the 2012 Conservative government omni-budgetwill drive down wages and reduce access to the EI system. These changes will affect all Canadian workers regardless of whether they will directly interact with the Employment Insurance system.

However, the current nature of work and use of unemployment benefits in Canada shows that the recent changes to Employment Insurance will negatively impact certain regions more than others. In addition, the higher proportion of women precarious and temporary work means that these changes will have an even larger negative effect on women workers.