Shorter Employment Insurance Waiting Period in Effect in Canada

The waiting period acts like the deductible that must be paid for other types of insurance. Shortening the waiting period is expected to ease the financial strain for EI claimants and will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually starting this year.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, Canada has shortened the Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period from two weeks to one week. The government took this action as part of its plan to improve the EI program and help Canada's middle class.

The waiting period acts like the deductible that must be paid for other types of insurance. Shortening the waiting period is expected to ease the financial strain for EI claimants and will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually starting this year. For example, for an eligible claimant who is laid off and subsequently finds work after 12 weeks, the change means that up to 11 weeks of EI benefits will be payable -- up to 10 weeks had been payable before the change was made.

The shorter waiting period applies to all types of EI benefits—regular, fishing, sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, parents of critically ill children, and special benefits for self-employed individuals. Claimants are still entitled to the same maximum number of weeks of EI benefits. The government said the waiting period "may have indirect implications for workers and employers who have top-up arrangements that supplement EI. Reducing the waiting period shifts forward the period during which EI benefits are payable. In some cases, employer payments that supplement EI maternity and parental benefits may be aligned to the two-week waiting period and the reduction of the waiting period may have impacts for workers or employers," adding that it has taken steps to mitigate the potential impact on employers' and workers' sickness plans by providing time for employers to adjust the plans and providing measures to minimize the impacts on workers' EI benefits.

"By shortening the waiting period, we are taking a concrete step to ease financial pressures for claimants who have lost their jobs or who leave work for health reasons or family pressures," said Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

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