CBC Digital Archives

Employment Insurance: So you need to collect UI

Employment insurance is a legacy of the Great Depression, and remains a pillar of Canada's social safety net. The system was created to provide an income while unemployed workers find new jobs, but expanded to include seasonal workers, new parents and those caring for ill relatives. Canada's EI system was once among the most generous plans in the world, but tightened rules in 1996 brought surpluses in the billions of dollars. CBC Digital Archives documents how employment insurance has evolved since 1941.

When you're laid off from your job, what happens next? As the recession of 1958 begins to hit home for Canadians, collecting unemployment insurance becomes a new possibility for those who have never had to make a claim. Off you go to the local Unemployment Insurance Commission office to register with the National Employment Service. And don't forget to get your book from your employer to prove you've paid into the system. In this CBC Radio, bits of drama enliven an in-depth explanation of how unemployment insurance works. 
• Canada and Europe were both affected by an economic slump that struck the United States in 1958. Unemployment rose to 8.8 per cent in Canada in January 1958, compared with 6.8 per cent three years earlier.
  • Fishery workers were added to the UI system in 1955 as part of a set of changes that brought in more workers, relaxed qualification rules and increased benefits.

• In 1958 several classes of workers were not covered by the unemployment insurance system. They included: farmers and foresters, teachers, nurses and anyone with a yearly salary over $4,800 ($35,500 in 2008 dollars). Along with the self-employed, these excluded workers totalled about 25 per cent of the labour force. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Cross Section
Broadcast Date: March 8, 1958
Guest(s): Earl Dixon, William Dixon
Host: Doug Haskins
Writer: David Savage
Duration: 27:39
Photo: Glenbow Archives NA-5600-6780b.

Last updated: February 8, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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