Delay EI premium increases, business group says

Employment insurance premiums should not be increased until the economy is stronger, a group representing small and medium-sized businesses says.
Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty listens as Prime Minister Stephen Harper responds to a question during a closing news conference at the G20 Summit in Cannes, Nov. 4, 2011. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is asking the government to delay a planned increase in employment insurance premiums. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Now is not the time to increase employment insurance rates, a group representing small and medium-sized businesses said Monday.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its members sent 15,000 petitions to MPs to show their fear over a plan to increase payroll taxes in 2012.

The government plans to increase employment insurance premiums by 10 cents per $100 for employees and 14 cents per $100 for employers.

"Given the ongoing economic uncertainty, now is not the time to be increasing EI premiums as it may end up deterring employers from hiring new employees," CFIB spokesman Dan Kelly said in a statement.

"A rate hike at this time will serve only to set back economic recovery and job creation. With Canada losing 54,000 full time jobs in the last month according to Statistics Canada data, the government should not be making it worse by increasing the cost of hiring," he said.

Kelly said businesses and workers have overpaid $50 billion into the federal EI account over the past 15 years.

The business group appeared with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty a little over a year ago when Flaherty announced he would scale back the 2011 increase and launch consultations into how EI rates are set.

The consultations launched in August and are due to close at the end of November.

Flaherty froze EI rates in 2009 because of the recession.