Just a little policy change to announce at 4:26pm on the Friday before a long weekend

After opposition MPs repeatedly pressed Diane Finley about a problem with the Harper government’s employment insurance reforms, the Human Resources Minister announces “adjustments.”

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today announced the Government’s intent to adjust the Employment Insurance (EI) Working While on Claim pilot project.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the new EI Working While on Claim pilot project,” said Minister Finley. “We have listened to those concerns and today I am announcing our intent to make adjustments to the new pilot program.”

The current pilot project allows claimants to keep 50 cents for every dollar they earn from working while on claim. It removes the previous pilot project’s cap on earnings, which clawed back 100% of earnings over $75 or 40% which discouraged Canadians from accepting more available work.

Under the adjustment announced today, those EI recipients who were working while on claim between August 7, 2011 and August 4, 2012 will be given the option of reverting to the rules that existed under the previous pilot program. This change will go into effect January 6, 2013, but it will be applied retrospectively to August 5, 2012 – the start of the new pilot program.

For those who choose this option, their EI benefits will not be reduced on earnings made while on claim for the first $75 or 40 percent of their benefits, whichever is greater – the same as the previous pilot program. However, all earnings above that threshold will reduce their EI benefits dollar for dollar.

Beginning January 6, 2013, eligible claimants must make the request to revert to the old pilot parameters within 30 days of their last EI benefit payment. For claims that have already ended, claimants will have 30 days from the introduction of this option.

Eligible claimants will be required to make this request for any subsequent claims for the duration of the new pilot project, which runs from August 5, 2012, until August 1, 2015. For an eligible claimant who does not choose to be considered under the previous pilot rules, all current and future claims will be processed under the new Working While on Claim pilot rules.

For an eligible claimant, if they make the decision to opt for the previous pilot, they will not be able to revert to the new pilot during the same EI claim. In addition, if, in a subsequent claim, they receive Working While on Claim benefits under the new pilot introduced on August 5, 2012 they will not be allowed to opt for the old pilot should they file another claim the following year.

Paul McLeod explains what this means. Wayne Easter seems unimpressed.

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