Vol. 150, No. 26 — December 28, 2016


SI/2016-73 December 28, 2016


Order Fixing January 1, 2017 as the Day on which Certain Sections of the Act Come into Force

P.C. 2016-1158 December 16, 2016

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Employment and Social Development, pursuant to subsection 231(4) of the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1, chapter 7 of the Statutes of Canada, 2016, fixes January 1, 2017 as the day on which sections 208, 213, 214, 219 and 221 of that Act come into force.


(This note is not part of the Order.)


To fix January 1, 2017, as the day on which sections 208, 213, 214, 219 and 221 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1 (BIA) come into force.


To bring into force amendments to the Employment Insurance Act (EI Act) that reduce the Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period from two weeks to one week effective January 1, 2017.


In Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced several initiatives to improve EI, including reducing the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week.

The EI waiting period is defined in the EI Act and is referenced throughout the EI Act and the Employment Insurance Regulations (EI Regulations). Pursuant to the EI Act, the EI waiting period is a period of time that must be served before a claimant is entitled to be paid EI benefits. The waiting period has been a key feature of the EI program since its inception and serves as a deductible similar to private insurance. It has been set at two weeks since 1971 and applies to regular, fishing, special and self-employed benefits.

The BIA, which received royal assent on June 22, 2016, contains amendments to the EI Act that reduce the EI waiting period from two weeks to one week. Amendments within Part 4, Division 12, of the BIA related to the reduction of the waiting period include sections 208, 213, 214, 215, 219, 221, 227, and 228 and subsection 231(4).

In Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced that the reduction of the waiting period would be effective on January 1, 2017. That said, pursuant to subsection 231(4) of the BIA, sections 208, 213, 214, 219 and 221 are to come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council (GIC). Sections 215, 227 and 228, and subsection 231(4) of the BIA came into force on June 22, 2016, upon royal assent of the BIA.


Reducing the waiting period will ease financial pressure at the front end of a claim when EI-eligible individuals become unemployed or leave work temporarily due to health or family pressures and could help claimants defray expenses as they adjust to the income shock in these circumstances. The measure will provide additional income support of $650 million annually beginning January 1, 2017, with expenditures charged to the EI Operating Account.


Following the Budget 2016 announcement of improvements to the EI program, the reaction of labour and union groups to the legislative change in the waiting period was largely positive. One employer group expressed concern regarding the impact on EI premium rates due to a reduced waiting period. Some employee groups, while supportive of the waiting period change, have subsequently noted unintended consequences (1) some workers who receive top-up payments from employers for the two-week waiting period could now receive one less week of supplementary employer benefit payments; and (2) in their view, claimants who receive an extra week of EI benefits are those least likely to be in need. Beyond this, employer groups have reacted positively to the four-year transitional provisions being proposed in the EI Regulations to mitigate, where possible, potential impacts on employers and their employees as a result of the legislative change in the waiting period.

Departmental contact

Andrew Brown
Senior Director
Employment Insurance Policy
Skills and Employment Branch
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0J9
Telephone: 819-654-6849
Fax: 819-934-6631
Email: andrew.brown@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca