Canada's Economic Action Plan: A Sixth Report to Canadians

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Chapter 2
Progress Achieved to Date

Helping the Unemployed

While there are now signs of recovery in the labour market—Canada has regained all of the jobs lost during the downturn—Canadians have felt the impacts of the global economic recession. Canada's Economic Action Plan includes $9.1 billion over two years to support those workers most affected and help them access opportunities through skills development and training. The Government delivered additional support under the Economic Action Plan of over $3.7 billion for the unemployed in 2009–10 and is providing a further $5.4 billion in 2010–11.

Table 2.2.1
Helping the Unemployed
  2009–10 2010–11 Total
(millions of dollars—cash basis)
Strengthening benefits for Canadian workers 1,258 1,550 2,808
Enhancing the availability of training 896 996 1,892
Maintaining low Employment Insurance
 premium rates
1,570 2,807 4,377
Total—Helping the Unemployed 3,725 5,353 9,077
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

Over the course of the recession, this additional assistance, combined with the natural increase in EI benefits that occurs during economic downturns, led to a significant increase in the temporary support provided by the Employment Insurance (EI) program to Canadians. Total EI benefits and support measures were $5.3 billion higher in 2009–10 than in 2008–09 (Chart 2.2.1).

In areas where unemployment has risen, the program has automatically adjusted to lower eligibility criteria to qualify and extended the duration of EI benefits. As of August 2010, 36 out of the 58 EI regions had a lower eligibility requirement and higher duration of benefits than they did in October 2008. As such, 83.1 per cent of the labour force population had easier access and longer benefit durations. All regions in B.C. and Alberta have seen a decrease in their eligibility requirements. In addition, 15 regions in Ontario and 5 regions in Quebec have also experienced a decrease in their eligibility requirements.

Access to EI has been made easier and benefits enhanced in regions of the country most affected by the global recession

The EI premium rate is remaining at $1.73 per $100 in insurable earnings in 2010, the lowest level since 1982. Based on current projections, this represents projected relief of $9.2 billion over 2009 and 2010 for Canadian workers and their employers relative to what would have been the case had rates been set at the break-even level over these two years. This fiscal cost excludes the additional $2.9 billion for enhanced EI benefits and training announced in Budget 2009.

EI benefits are up sharply

Chart 2.2.1 - Employment Insurance Benefits

Canada's Economic Action Plan took immediate and decisive action to protect jobs and help Canadians directly affected by the global recession. At the same time, the Government has maintained a focus on the economy of the future by contributing to the development of a skilled, flexible and knowledgeable workforce. Through these initiatives, the Government is continuing to help Canadians and support jobs and training in 2010–11.

  • An extra five weeks of EI benefits has already been provided to more than 890,000 EI claimants. This extension of benefits remained available to workers who made EI claims up to September 11, 2010. Recent claimants will receive these extra weeks of benefits into 2011, with claimants in regions of high unemployment receiving benefits well into the summer of 2011.
  • More than 12,000 long-tenured unemployed workers are receiving additional benefits through the Career Transition Assistance program in order to participate in long-term training.
  • In addition, the Government has estimated that more than 500,000 long-tenured unemployed workers, those who have paid into EI for years, are eligible to receive between 5 to 20 weeks of additional benefits. To date, over 120,000 long-tenured workers have received additional weeks of EI benefits. In high unemployment regions, recent long-tenured claimants could receive these extra weeks of benefits into the fall of 2011.
  • In August 2010, over 67,000 Canadians were participating in over 3,300 work-sharing agreements (Chart 2.2.2). Since February 2009, more than 260,000 Canadians have participated in more than 9,500 work-sharing agreements. The number of participants in work-sharing has decreased as the recovery takes hold.
  • Since January 27, 2009, payments have been made to more than 23,000 claimants under the Wage Earner Protection Program.
  • The Government has responded to the needs of Canada's self-employed workers by providing EI special benefits, including maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, on a voluntary basis. The self-employed have been able to opt into EI special benefits since January 31, 2010, and will be able to apply for benefits as early as January 2011.
  • Of the $1.9 billion committed to enhancing the availability of training, $900 million or 47 per cent had been spent by March 31, 2010.
  • The Government provided $750 million to the provinces and territories in 2009–10 in support of training and skills development programs, benefiting more than 200,000 Canadians, and will provide a further $750 million in 2010–11.
  • It is expected that current projects under the enhanced Targeted Initiative for Older Workers will provide additional support to over 9,300 older workers.
  • Approximately 3,500 summer jobs were created as a result of additional support provided to the Canada Summer Jobs Program in 2009–10. A similar number of additional jobs are expected to be created in 2010–11.
  • Training and skills development support will be provided to more than 14,700 Aboriginal Canadians through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership program and the Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.
  • Apprenticeship Completion Grants have already been provided to more than 31,000 apprentices who completed their apprenticeship training and obtained their certification in any of the designated Red Seal trades.
  • Support is being provided to implement the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. As of August 2010, 59 new agreements are in place to support implementation of the framework.
  • Funding is currently supporting 825 youth internships in not-for-profit and community service organizations through the YMCA and YWCA, 767 (93 per cent) of which have an environmental focus.
The number of Canadian workers benefiting from work-sharing has fallen as the recovery takes hold

Chart 2.2.2 - Canadian Workers Participating in Active Work-Sharing Agreements


Canada's Economic Action Plan: Working for Canadians

Enhanced Work-Sharing

The Brick Canada (Ontario)—The Brick Canada, one of the country's largest volume home furnishing retailers, experienced significantly weaker sales at the onset of the recession. Like many companies across the country facing a similar situation, The Brick wanted to avoid reducing their work force. Seeking an alternative, Dana Dryden, the Director of the Distribution Ontario Centre, heard about work-sharing through Service Canada. The Brick's work-sharing agreement started on June 28, 2009, and ended on June 26, 2010, and provided 300 employees with secure employment. Since the end of the program, the employees have gone back to working full-time hours and are confident of a promising future with the company.

Trecan Combustion (Halifax, N.S.)—Trecan Combustion, a Canadian company that has been designing and manufacturing snowmelters for over 35 years, experienced difficult times in 2009 as sales slowed. Faced with this dramatic change in the business environment, the company contemplated laying off workers. However, rather than letting people go, Trecan turned to the work-sharing program, which provided EI benefits to qualifying workers willing to accept reduced hours. David Regan, the Production Manager at Trecan, said that the program allowed the company to maintain a strong core group of workers. This will help the company as soon as work picks up by enabling it to keep and support some of its most experienced, hard-working employees, which they might otherwise have lost.

YMCA-YWCA Internships

Kingston, Ont.— During her internship with the Kingston Sustainability Centre, Katie McKenzie had the opportunity to gain more than experience. With support from the Youth Eco Internship Program, she is getting closer to her dream of being a primary school teacher. She hopes to teach at the local school board, and her internship allowed her to put her teaching skills to excellent use in developing and implementing curriculum-based education programs focusing on sustainability. Visitors to the Kingston Sustainability Centre can learn how to become more sustainable in their daily activities and choices. With the knowledge she gained and the connections she made in the community, Katie will have a promising future when she finishes her internship.

Victoria, B.C.—Amy Medve is well on her way to achieving her goal of becoming a wildlife biologist thanks to the Youth Eco Internship Program. She applied for funding through the program and then approached the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in Victoria, B.C. for an internship. Through this internship, Amy is gaining valuable experience by being able to focus on breeding bird research and evaluating the types of birds that use the park for breeding. She is learning skills that are vital to becoming a wildlife biologist and that will allow her to contribute to the field of environmental sciences.

Apprenticeship Completion Grant

Inuvik, N.W.T.—Terry is a professional cook who recognized the opportunity that skilled trades offer. When he lost his job in Windsor, Ontario, a restaurant in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, made him an offer he couldn't refuse. He moved to Inuvik, where he completed an apprenticeship at the Mackenzie Hotel, and he has been working there ever since. Terry's dream would not have been realized if he had not benefited from the Government of Canada's Apprenticeship Incentive Grant and Apprenticeship Completion Grant. The two grants are offered to registered apprentices in designated Red Seal trades. Since completing his training, Terry has even had the honour of cooking for the Prime Minister and the Governor General when they visited Inuvik.

Calgary, Alta.—Dana Hawkes is a construction electrician who has benefited from the Apprenticeship Completion Grant. Once she became a certified Red Seal journeyperson, she was able to use the grant to apply her skills and confidence to work as a construction electrician on many different projects in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. Dana feels that she has chosen the right trade because of the mental and physical challenges the job provides. Her long-term goal is to open her own green electrical business and help homeowners make their houses more eco-friendly.

Aboriginal Skills and Employment
Partnership Program

Saskatoon, Sask.—Dylan Ratt was frustrated with being unemployed, and his future brightened as a result of the Bridges and Foundations Career Development Corporation. Canada's Economic Action Plan invested $2.9 million in the corporation through the federal government's Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP) program. The corporation supports major economic opportunities identified in the residential construction industry in and around Saskatoon. With training provided for up to 600 Aboriginal people in the region, it is expected that at least 400 participants will secure long-term jobs in construction. Dylan, now an exterior finisher with Global Exteriors in Saskatoon, believes the project gave him the opportunity to find employment and made a huge difference to him and his family.

Sydney, N.S.—The Prosperity Project is a partnership-based initiative supported by the ASEP program. As part of Budget 2007, the Unama'ki Partnership for Prosperity project received $2.1 million in funding. Canada's Economic Action Plan included an additional investment of $1.2 million for phase two of the project. Serving as a role model for future graduates and for his children, Jason Johnson feels that employment and training opportunities with the ASEP program will allow Aboriginal people to obtain skills and employment in the environmental field and other trades.

Labour Market Development Agreements

Corner Brook, N.L.—Having had difficulty securing work in her field of study, Tracey Pells researched programs that would help her establish her own business. She came across Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Self-Employment Program and has moved forward on her career goals by leasing a year-round practice facility for golfers. The Self-Employment Program is one of a broad range of EI training programs that provide financial assistance to help unemployed Canadians find jobs and employers find workers.


Table 2.2.2
Helping the Unemployed
  2009–10 2010–11

(millions of dollars)
Strengthening Benefits
An extra 5 weeks of EI benefits 796 575 575
EI—long tenured workers
 (Career Transition Assistance program)
15 250 250
EI—long-tenured workers
 (extension of regular benefits)
215 600 600
EI—work-sharing 211 100 100
Wage Earner Protection Program 22 25 25
Subtotal—Strengthening Benefits 1,258 1,550 1,550
Enhancing the Availability of Training
EI training programs 500 500 500
Strategic Training and Transition Fund 250 250 250
Canada Summer Jobs Program 10 10 10
Federal public service student
 employment program
10 10 10
Targeted Initiative for Older Workers 5 34 34
Apprenticeship Completion Grant 39 40 40
Foreign Credential Recognition program 12 30 30
Aboriginal Skills and Employment
 Partnership program
7 72 72
Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic
 Investment Fund
24 50 50
Aboriginal Human Resources
 Development Strategy  
Subtotal—Enhancing the Availability of Training 896 996 996
Keeping EI premium rates frozen for 2010 1,570 2,807 2,807
Total—Helping the Unemployed 3,725 5,353 5,353
Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

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