Vol. 148, No. 21 — October 8, 2014
SOR/2014-214 September 26, 2014
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
Regulations Amending the Employment Insurance Regulations
P.C. 2014-976 September 25, 2014
The Canada Employment Insurance Commission, pursuant to section 153.1 (see footnote a) of the Employment Insurance Act (see footnote b), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Employment Insurance Regulations.
August 13, 2014
Canada Employment Insurance Commission
Canada Employment Insurance Commission
Canada Employment Insurance Commission
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, pursuant to section 153.1 (see footnote c) of the Employment Insurance Act (see footnote d), approves the annexed Regulations Amending the Employment Insurance Regulations, made by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE REGULATIONS
1. Subsection 93(4.1) of the Employment Insurance Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
(4.1) A claimant to whom benefits are payable under any of sections 23 to 23.2 of the Act and whose claim for benefits because of illness, injury or quarantine is made for a week that begins on or after the day on which this subsection comes into force is not disentitled under paragraph (4)(a) for failing to prove that they would have been available for work were it not for the illness, injury or quarantine.
COMING INTO FORCE
2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which sections 242 to 248 and 250 of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, chapter 20 of the Statutes of Canada, 2014, come into force, but if they are registered after that day, they come into force on the Sunday after the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
The Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2014, amended the Employment Insurance Act (EI Act) to allow claimants in receipt of Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefits (CCB) or parents of critically ill children (PCIC) benefits to switch to EI sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured, by waiving the “otherwise available for work” requirement.
There remains a small group of claimants who can qualify for CCB or PCIC benefits that are not exempt from the “otherwise available for work” requirement if they request to interrupt their claim to access sickness benefits. A consequential technical amendment to the Employment Insurance Regulations (EI Regulations) is therefore required to align the EI Regulations with the EI Act amendments.
The EI special benefits (sickness, maternity, parental, CCB and PCIC benefits) play an important role in supporting Canadians and their families by providing temporary income support to eligible workers who have to be away from work due to specific life events.
Since the coming into force of certain provisions of the Helping Families in Need Act (HFNA), EI claimants in receipt of parental benefits can interrupt their claim to access sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured, without having to meet the “otherwise available for work” requirement to access sickness benefits. If applicable, claimants could also potentially resume collecting their parental benefits. This change recognized, effective March 24, 2013, that a sick parent may not be able to take care of and bond with their child, which is the purpose of parental benefits. As a result of the HFNA provisions, a consequential amendment to the EI Regulations was required to waive the “otherwise available for work” requirement for a small group of claimants who qualify for parental benefits under the EI Regulations.
To qualify for EI special benefits, insured claimants must have accumulated 600 hours of insurable employment in their qualifying period. However, for a small group of claimants who are normally required to have accumulated more than 600 hours to qualify for EI regular benefits, the EI Regulations allow them to qualify for EI special benefits with 600 hours. This is the case for new entrants and re-entrants (NEREs), who normally need 910 hours, and claimants who live in EI economic regions where the monthly unemployment rate is 8% or lower, who normally need between 630 and 700 hours.
CCB and PCIC benefits are of a similar nature to parental benefits in that the claimant receives temporary income support to take care of a vulnerable family member. More specifically, CCB are payable to eligible persons who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill and at significant risk of death within 26 weeks. PCIC benefits are payable to eligible parents who have to be away from work to provide care or support to their critically ill or injured child under the age of 18.
Building from provisions of the HFNA for parental benefits claimants, the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 amended the EI Act to further extend the flexibility to access sickness benefits to claimants in receipt of CCB or PCIC benefits. A consequential amendment to the EI Regulations, similar to the regulatory amendment that resulted from the HFNA provisions for parental benefits claimants, is required.
The objective of this amendment is to align the EI Regulations with the specific amendments made to the EI Act as a result of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 to ensure that all CCB and PCIC benefits claimants can benefit from this flexibility.
This amendment allows claimants who qualify for CCB or PCIC benefits with only 600 hours of insurable employment, i.e. NEREs and claimants living in regions where the unemployment rate is 8% or lower, to qualify for sickness benefits despite not being “otherwise available for work.”
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply, as the amendments impose no administrative burden on employers.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs (or insignificant costs) on small business.
The legislative amendments were debated in Parliament through the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1, and no amendments were recommended. Given that the regulatory amendment is consequential to the preceding legislative amendments on this issue, no additional formal consultations were undertaken.
This amendment aligns the EI Regulations with the specific EI Act amendments in the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1. Without this amendment, a small group of claimants in receipt of CCB or PCIC benefits, such as NEREs, would not be able to switch to sickness benefits if they fall ill or are injured during their claim, unless they can prove that they are “otherwise available for work,” as specified in the EI Regulations.
The consequential regulatory amendment is very targeted in nature. Overall, approximately 300 claimants per year are expected to benefit from both the legislative and regulatory amendments, with associated EI program costs estimated at $1.2 million. Only a small fraction of these 300 claimants, estimated at about 5%, is expected to be impacted by the regulatory amendment.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The required operational adjustments are limited, as claims will be reviewed manually. Service Canada employees will be provided with updated training and communication material to prepare for the coming into force of the amendments. Claimants requesting to switch from their claim for CCB or PCIC benefits to sickness will be required to provide Service Canada with a medical certificate attesting to their illness or injury.
Existing implementation and enforcement mechanisms contained in Employment and Social Development Canada’s adjudication and control procedures will ensure that this regulatory amendment is implemented properly.
To ensure smooth implementation of the change, this amendment to the EI Regulations is anticipated to come into force on the same day as the EI Act amendments, on October 12, 2014.
Employment Insurance Policy
Skills and Employment Branch
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage