Ottawa cancels enhanced employment insurance program

Five extra weeks of EI benefits to be cut off as of Saturday

As of Saturday, Ottawa will cancel an extra five weeks of regular employment insurance benefits and end a program that provided up to an additional 20 weeks of benefits for longer-serving employees. Last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper enhanced regular EI benefits for laid off workers by five weeks in response to the economic downturn. Though the government enhanced EI benefits with its $47 billion two-year spending program aimed at propping up the national economy, the infrastructure taps will be turned off March 31, 2011. Ontario’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Monique Smith said only 30 per cent of unemployed workers in the province receive EI benefits compared to 56 per cent in all the other provinces. EI funding has been a long-standing point of contention between Ontario and Ottawa, with Liberals arguing that Ontario workers do not receive a fair share of the federal EI fund, which is sitting at a $57 billion surplus.

Toronto Star

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