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Proposed Changes to EI, Elimination of Board of Referees
May 31, 2012

Bill C–38, theGovernment’s omnibus budget bill, proposes a number of significant changes in relationto Employment Insurance.

Amendments to the Employment Insurance Act will allowGovernment to define what constitutes “suitable employment for differentcategories of claimants” and to establish “criteria for defining or determiningwhat constitutes reasonable and customary efforts” for job seekers receivingEI.

In advance of RoyalAssent of the Bill, Government has released its intended changes in relation tothe definitions of “suitable employment” and “reasonable job search”.

“Suitableemployment” will be based on six criteria: personal circumstances; workingconditions; hours of work; commuting time; type of work; and hourly wage. Thefirst four criteria will be applicable to all applicants while the latter twowill vary with the duration of the EI claim and the frequency of EI claims madeby the applicant.

A “reasonable jobsearch” will include researching and assessing job prospects; preparingresumes; searching for vacancies; attending interviews; as well as networkingand attendance at workshops and job fairs. The job prospects in a particulararea will influence which aspects will be emphasized. For example, a large citywith more available jobs may require more applications while smallercommunities may require more emphasis onresearch and assessment. Government also intends to send job postings to jobseekers twice a day from both internal and private posting services, ratherthan its previous practice of once every two weeks.

The impact of theproposed changes remain to be seen. However, at the least, they are likely toaffect temporary foreign workers by limiting their use in areas where CanadianEI applicants perform similar work.

In addition, theBill proposes the creation of a Social Security Tribunal, with up to 74 full-timemembers to replace the current system of Employment Insurance Board of Refereesand umpires.

Bill C-38 iscurrently in the process of completing second reading in the House of Commons.

Find information onthe second reading of the Bill here

Find the Government’s Backgrounder on thechanges to Employment Insurance here

For further information please contact Nazeer Mitha.