No government has taken a comprehensive look at the Employment Insurance system in decades, says federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, and the time has come to do it.

The federal government has launched a full review, starting with calling on Canadians to let the government know how they think the system needs to change. 

“The more input, the better,” Qualtrough told CBC’s Island Morning Monday.

“Quite frankly, we want everybody who is remotely interested in EI to really have a say in what the future system looks for.”

Identifying problems

A committee chaired by Charlottetown MP Sean Casey in June found the system to be in need of significant change and identified a number of issues.

Gig workers ranked high on the list of problems. These are people who work on contract doing jobs for a number of different companies. They’re classified as self-employed so they don’t pay EI premiums, and they’re also not eligible to collect benefits.

“Some gig workers also have part-time work in which they are employees, and so they pay into the system for those jobs, but sometimes don’t accumulate enough hours in those jobs because they’re part-time to access the system even though they’re contributing,” said Qualtrough.

“Are we talking about the misclassification of work? Are our gig workers actually employees?”

It’s a question that has not been addressed, she said, because no one was talking about gig workers when the Employment Insurance program was developed.

Consistent access

The review will also look at making access to the system more consistent for seasonal workers, and will consider the system of dividing the country up into zones, requiring Canadians to work more hours to receive benefits and receive fewer benefits depending on where they live.

The division of P.E.I. into two separate zones by the previous Conservative government in 2014 has been a smouldering issue on the island. 

All these changes will need to be made while ensuring that the system can still pay for itself, said Qualtrough, and provides the support that Canadians need without disincentivizing work.

More from CBC P.E.I.

Source From CBC News

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