Kenney reins in EI benefits

Employment insurance benefits will be cut in all three territorial capitals this autumn, following an announcement this week in Whitehorse by Jason Kenney.

Employment insurance benefits will be cut in all three territorial capitals this autumn, following an announcement this week in Whitehorse by Jason Kenney, the federal minister of employment and social development.

Residents in Whitehorse, Iqaluit and Yellowknife will have to work 700 hours in the previous 52 weeks to collect employment insurance. That’s up from 420.

They will also collect benefits for a maximum of 36 weeks, instead of 45.

The federal government is also going to divide each territory into two EI regions – the capital and the rest of the territory – to reflect that it is easier to find a job in Whitehorse than in rural Yukon.

The move takes effect in October.

The government says the changes will better reflect the economy in the North.

“Across Canada, regional unemployment rates determine how much, and for how long, a person receives EI,” Kenney’s department said in a statement.

“However, since the 1970s, the unemployment rate used for EI in the territories has been arbitrarily fixed at 25 percent. This outdated policy does not reflect the true state of the economy in the North.”

Ottawa will instead use the actual unemployment rate in the territories for calculating benefits under the EI program, as is the case in the rest of the country.

Statistics Canada puts the unemployment rate in the Yukon at 6.3 per cent for January 2014. Whitehorse’s unemployment rate is currently estimated to be 5 per cent.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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