TIANS is closely monitoring this issue and gathering additional information on how this policy direction will be operationalized and what this will mean to the tourism sector.

TIANS supports positive improvements to the system, however there is no evidence the government has considered the implications on seasonal workers particularly in rural areas. 

TIANS is seeking clarification from the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, regarding the transition for seasonal workers and requesting what strategies the government has put in place to mitigate additional social and economic impacts.

Generally, what is the big change with this new Employment Insurance scheme?
Canadians receiving employment insurance benefits could be forced to commute up to an hour to their workplace and accept jobs with wages ranging between 70% and 90% of their previous income. Claims are now also judged along side past work experience.

In the new system, are all claims treated equally?
No, under the new system, claimants are divided into three categories, according to their history with EI.

 Long-tenured workers (25% of claimants): This group is comprised of people who have been working for almost a decade, and have experienced little unemployment. Claimants who have paid into the EI system for the past seven of 10 years and have received 35 or fewer weeks of EI regular/fishing benefits over the last five years.

 Frequent claimants (17% of claimants): This group contains the chronically unemployed. EI claimants who had three or more regular and/or fishing claims and received more than 60 weeks of benefits in the past five years. Basically, if you are a seasonal worker, or someone who makes an EI claim every year, you have

• Occasional claimants (58% of claimants): This group might contain young workers and immigrants who have only recently entered the Canadian work force. This group would include all other claimants, who generally have limited experience of being unemployed and searching for work, but who have not paid into the EI system for seven of 10 years.

How long can I look for work and still receive EI?
EI can run from 14-45 weeks, depending on your region and how long you were employed before filing your claim. But you must be actively looking for work in order to receive EI benefits—that’s always been the case and it’s not changing. What is changing is how picky an unemployed person can be. Under the new system, you may have to accept work at a lower pay and in a different field if you have been unemployed for a long time.

• Long-tenured workers can hold out for employment within 90% of their former salary in the same occupation for 18 weeks after filing for EI. After 18 weeks, they will have to accept work offered at 80% of their former salary if its in a similar (but not identical) occupation.

• Occasional claimants can hold out for employment at 90% of their former salary in the same occupation for six weeks. After that, they will have to accept a job in a similar occupation at 80% salary for another 12 weeks (bringing them to week 18 of their unemployment. After week 18, they will have to accept any job offered at 70% of their former salary.

• Frequent claimants must take a job offered at 80% of their former salary in a similar occupation for the first six weeks of their EI. After that, they must take any job offered at 70% of their former salary.

What if I can’t find work close to home?
In the new system, you will have to accept a job within an hour commute. Some locales may have a longer acceptable commute if long commutes are typical for the area.

How will this affect seasonal workers?
Some seasonal workers were gainfully employed during the “on” season, and took EI benefits for the “off” season. For example, a logger might work from the spring to fall, but take winter off. This would most likely classify them as a “frequent claimant.” In the new system, after six weeks, they would have to accept any job offered to them at 70% of their “on season” salary or lose benefits.