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Insurance -employment: 42,000 seasonal workers are eligible for the supplement

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Approximately 42,000 seasonal workers in the Atlantic and Quebec are eligible for additional weeks of employment insurance benefits, estimates the federal government. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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The Government of Canada estimates that 42,000 seasonal workers in the Atlantic and Quebec are eligible on average for about four additional weeks of employment insurance benefits under a pilot project announced in November.

Details of Pilot Project No. 22, as the government calls it, are published in the Canada Gazette on December 20 . The pilot is for beneficiaries whose benefit period ends by September 7, 2024.

Employment and Social Development Canada seeks to reduce the dark period, that is to say the period without income between the end of employment insurance benefits and the start of seasonal work.

The situation is more serious this year because of a drop in the unemployment rate in 7 of the 13 targeted economic regions. Under Employment Insurance rules, when the regional unemployment rate decreases, the number of weeks eligible for benefits also decreases, to reflect the improving labor market.

This is good news for many seasonal workers, but not for those whose employment period was cut short by natural disasters, chain problems supply and market fluctuations.

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Workers demonstrate about employment insurance on October 16, 2022 near the offices of the MP 'Acadie-Bathurst, Serge Cormier, in Caraquet, New Brunswick.

The ministry admits as much in an analysis, indicating that for some seasonal workers, falling unemployment rates may pose a challenge.

The ministry says, for example, that the unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador (excluding the capital) fell by 2.8 percentage points from September 2022 to September 2023. As a result, workers in this economic region may have been eligible for up to six fewer weeks of regular benefits compared to those who applied in September 2022.

The four weeks of benefits supplements do not change the eligibility criteria for employment insurance.

LoadingThe FAE is multiplying its highlights all over Quebec

ELSEWHERE ON INFO: The FAE is multiplying its highlights throughout Quebec

Workers must accumulate 420 to 700 hours of insurable employment to be eligible to receive 14 to 45 weeks of regular benefits, depending on the regional unemployment rate and the number of hours of insurable employment accumulated.

The ministry estimates the average per worker for each additional week is $480. He projects the four weeks of additional benefits will cost about $65 million in total.

The MP for Acadie-Bathurst, Serge Cormier, criticized his government for this measure in an interview with Téléjournal Acadie, granted on November 24 when announcing the measure.

It's a band-aid, yes it will help some people, but the number of hours is so high in our region that it won't help the people who really need it, he explained.

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Serge Cormier, MP for Acadie-Bathurst, would like his government to finally present employment insurance reform. (File photo)

The MP is still pushing for comprehensive employment insurance reform that could help our seasonal workers and employers who are desperately looking for labor.

In the meantime, he said, other temporary measures would have been preferable, for example lowering the threshold for eligible weeks.

Some people will work less because of this, because they will now be able to receive benefits for longer, fears a policy analyst at the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, Fred Bergman.

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Fred Bergman of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says the new policy can help narrow the income gap for workers who don't find a job before their employment insurance benefits end. (File photo)

But if we're trying to close this income gap, it's important to address this because if you eliminate these extra weeks benefits, it does not guarantee that they will find work, adds Mr. Bergman.

It's a step in the right direction, judges the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labor, Danny Cavanagh.

It's better than nothing, of course, but it doesn't go far enough. Seasonal workers will need a lot of help this winter. People need housing and an income, says Cavanagh.

With information from< em>Paul Withers, ofCBC

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