To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Sep 15, 2010
When something bad happens, employment-wise speaking, there is often the worry of how you are going to pay your bills. Thankfully, in Canada, there is something called Employment Insurance, which is there to help you when you need help after losing your jobs.
Employment Insurance has not always been the name of the program. Until 1996, it was called Unemployment Insurance. However, it was changed to Employment Insurance because of the negative connotations associated with the word unemployment. Canadians who work within the country pay 1.73 percent of their earnings in return for benefits if they lose their job. There used to be a government contribution to the program but that was stopped in 1990.
Depending on how long you were at your previous job, the amount you receive for employment insurance and how long you get employment insurance will vary. Your employer will contribute 1.4 times the value of the premium you pay.
The amount of employment insurance paid out around Canada varies by the region. Roughly half of all employment insurance premiums are paid out to individuals in Ontario and the Western Provinces. However, employment insurance is very important in the Atlantic Provinces where there are many season workers who work in fishing, tourism and forestry. During the winter there is no work, so those who work in seasonal industries need something to help pay the bills until their work season begins again. To help with this, employment insurance has special rules for those who fish for a living.
Employment insurance will also pay for things like parental leave, maternity leave, and compassionate care leave and illness coverage.
Employment insurance first came about during the Great Depression in 1935. The odd thing was that the Supreme Court of Canada ended it because it was deemed unconstitutional. The constitution was amended so that employment insurance could fall under federal, and not provincial, leadership. The first system then came into being in 1940 and Canada was the last major western country to implement a system of employment insurance.
Changes to the system came about in 1971 under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when he made it easier to get. Under the new system, only needed to work for 10 weeks to get benefits for 42 weeks. At this time, the program was also opened up for sickness and maternity leave, which would run for 15 weeks.
However, from 1971 to 1990, the government slowly reduced its contributions until it was no longer contributing. The employment insurance system was then cut back on in 1990, 1993, 1994 and 1996 by the ruling governments, increasing the time someone had to work in a seasonal job until they could earn money. In 2001, the federal government increased parental leave from 10 to 35 weeks and gave workers employment insurance for compassionate care leave.
Currently, the system costs the country $22.7 billion per year.
No matter the cost, it is an important thing for individuals who need help after they have lost their job, suffered a death in the family, or are welcoming a new member to the family.