Ottawa reveals EI enforcement targets

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has revealed to CBC News it expects to save hundreds of millions of dollars through EI enforcement.

Quebec biggest target for EI integrity work

The integrity of the EI system has to be ensured, says Human Resources Minister Diane Finley. (CBC)

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has revealed to CBC News its specific targets for EI enforcement. Government says it plans to save hundreds of millions of dollars this year by investigating EI fraud. 

Last week the French-language newspaper Le Devoir published a story alleging Service Canada investigators have monthly quotas for stripping EI recipients of their claims. Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has been firm, saying there are no quotas for individual investigators, but there are annual targets for specific regions of the country.

Regional targets for EI integrity work

  • Atlantic: $58M
  • Quebec: $120M
  • Ontario: $110M
  • West: $115M
  • National Programs: $35M

HRSDC sent those targets to CBC News in an email Tuesday.

Nationally the department has a target of $430 million in what it calls "integrity work." The biggest target for a single region is Quebec, where the department expects to gain $120 million by investigating claims, then declaring them ineligible.

"HRSDC was able to stop almost half a billion dollars in ineligible payments last year; however, the Employment Insurance program still lost hundreds of millions due to fraud," Human Resources Minister Diane Finley was quoted as saying in the email.

"Stealing from the unemployed is a serious matter, that’s why we have to ensure the integrity of the system. The only people who lose if the opposition stops us from rooting out EI fraud are Canadians who follow the rules."

Ann Wheatley is part of the P.E.I. Coation for Fair EI. She says government is trying to portray everyone on EI as fraudsters trying to milk the system.

"I think this kind of statement about recouping that amount of money really has the effect of portraying workers as somehow criminal, as somehow taking money that they didn't deserve in the first place, and that they owe it back to the government, and that's clearly not the case," she says.

"I think government's getting away with some of these changes by portraying workers as somehow not deserving, somehow abusing the system."