EI wait time may stay at 2 weeks until 2017, employment minister says
Change impacts other programs and is 'very complicated,' MaryAnn Mihychuk says
Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk says that while some of the Liberal promises to reform employment insurance could happen quickly, reducing the two-week waiting time is "very complicated" and might wait for 2017.
"We made very large commitments for change to employment insurance, which is a massive system," Mihychuk told host Rosemary Barton onCBC News Network's Power & Politics. "From day one I've been trying to implement the changes in the platform.
"It's not working for Canadians anymore — the way that we work is more temporary, and we move," she said. "The system ... now is only representing 36 per cent of working Canadians. That's clearly a problem. We pay for insurance and yet are not able to claim."
But while some of what the Liberals said they'd do during the election is achievable in the short term, other things may have to wait.
Changing the threshold of work required before new or returning workers can make an employment insurance claim — currently set at a minimum of 910 hours — to something more regionally flexible might happen soon.
"There's a clause that makes it very difficult for immigrants and young Canadians to collect," Mihychuk said. "We feel that's something that could move very quickly."
But the pledge to reduce EI waiting time from two weeks to one week is proving more difficult.
"That's a systemic change. It impacts skills programs. It impacts other associated support. That's very complicated," she said. "I think by the time we can get that out it may be 2017.
Canada's broader economic troubles are a "huge concern" for the minister, she said, particularly looking at the situation in Western Canada and in the resource sector.
- EI claims rose 9.2% in the year to November with Albertans hardest hit
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- Rona Ambrose says Liberals ill-equipped to deal with deteriorating economy
"We're looking at what tools we have, what we can implement that are going to be effective," she said, echoing a goal her predecessors articulated of doing a better job of matching available skilled workers with employers who are desperate for their services.
But the government's response may also be limited, she suggested.
"If you wanted to impact every worker that was laid off, it would be a serious impact on the budget."