Canada Unemployment Insurance
To the non-Canadian eye, the term 'unemployment insurance' may seem like a product or service offered by a private insurance company. It's certainly an easy mistake to make, particularly as an entire range of large insurance companies offer insurance designed specifically to provide income for people forced out of work due to illness, seasonal demand changes, and economic recessions.
However, to Canadians, unemployment insurance is a completely different service. Dating back to the years of the Great Depression, unemployment insurance in Canada is a public service given out to working-aged, able-bodied, and ready-to-work residents who are forced out of their employment by factors outside of their control, including long-term economic effects and changes in demand.
The service is colloquially known as EI, and it's one of the major pillars of Canada's welfare and financial support system. Built to support workers who are unable to find employment despite an active and ongoing search for opportunities, the Canada Unemployment Insurance system allows people out of work to support themselves while they search for job opportunities that suit them.
In this brief guide, we're going to look at some of the major financial support pillars that make up unemployment insurance in Canada, some of the reasons one might use such a service, and how a Canadian that's out of work is able to make the most of UE assistance. Whether you're employed, unemployed, or simply looking for an opportunity, read on to learn more about UE income support.
In order to qualify for unemployment insurance in Canada, you need to have worked within a set number of hours preceding your termination. This acts as a stop-type barrier for insurance, giving the service only to those that have grown used to a certain level of income from their work. Hour counts vary based on the claimants' province, profession, and their total tenure with an employer.
For example, people based in metropolitan areas with low levels of unemployment – a factor that would indicate a large amount of available jobs – will need to have worked upwards of 700 hours during the past year in order to receive financial assistance. This locks out many part-time workers and service employees, many of whom work limited hours within their professional roles.
On the other hand, people based in areas that lack large amounts of job opportunities – often rural or economically depressed areas – are able to claim unemployment insurance after spending under 420 annual hours in the workplace. This is roughly equal to a ten-week period spend working as a full-time employee, allowing many part-time or limited-work employees to get insurance benefits.
To many people, both within Canada and internationally, this seems like an opportunity for 'free money' for those outside the workforce. However, as with most income support programs, it's an opportunity that's only available within strict guidelines. One of these is the requirement that any person claiming unemployment insurance must be 'ready, willing, and capable of finding work.'
This means that people claiming unemployment insurance must be both ready to work should an opportunity arise, and ready to work on any opportunity that should become available. Their own skills are often irrelevant to qualifying for the unemployment program's support – any work that's made available is often required to be taken in order to qualify for continuing income assistance.
Canadian unemployment insurance is supported through a variety of tax and deposit-based income programs, the largest of which is the EI Account scheme. While employed, professionals in Canada pay a small portion of their income – typically 1.7 percent – into a fund to cover for expenses that can occur during economic recessions and other periods of frequent and diverse unemployment.
For the most part, unemployment insurance is offered as a supportive service to people that have been made redundant or terminated outside of their control. However, there are some situations in which unemployment insurance may be offered to people that leave their positions voluntarily, as part of a health-related situation, or due to family circumstances that require their involvement.
For example, new mothers are often able to claim unemployment insurance to cover expenses that occur during their maternity leave, often before reentering the workforce following caring for their child. Similarly, employees that are forced to leave their jobs due to sickness can qualify for income support while unemployed and unable – yet willing, of course – to work due to their illness.
People who believe that they had no choice but to leave their position, either due to poor conduct in the workplace from a coworker or unfair treatment from an employer, may also qualify for support. These situations are often quite subjective, and may require the analysis and qualification of a social or support worker, who will analyze the situation and offer a suitable employment support scheme.
Due to the amount of variables involved in receiving unemployment insurance, it's difficult to give a set figure for anyone's income or eligibility for the program. However, it's a free service, and one that's easy to investigate. If you believe you may be entitled to unemployment insurance, consider speaking with a Service Canada assistant in order to assess your situation and process any claims.
As a temporary measure for keeping Canada's professionals dedicated and ready to work, schemes like unemployment insurance can be highly effective. Whether forced out of work due to economic circumstances or due to other factors outside of their control, an ex-employee gaining support from the Canadian government is in reliable, supporting, and motivating hands.