EI laws discriminate against women

Tribunal rules that forcing primary caregivers to work 700 hours to qualify for EI violates Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canada’s unemployment insurance laws discriminate against women, a Winnipeg tribunal has ruled.

Women are more often primary caregivers so it’s harder for them to work the 700 hours required to qualify for EI. The rules therefore violate the equality provisions under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the tribunal said.

Tribunal rulings cannot change the law but if the ruling is upheld on appeal to the Federal Court, Parliament would be forced to act.

The tribunal ruling was based on the case of Winnipeg nurse Kelly Lesiuk. She challenged the 700-hour requirement after she was denied maternity benefits because, while working part-time and taking care of her first child, she fell a few hours short.

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