EI pilot project extended to 2009

Ottawa continues project in 21 economic areas that lets workers collect an additional five weeks of benefits

The federal government is extending an employment insurance (EI) benefits pilot project until 2009.

The pilot project increases EI entitlement by providing five additional weeks of benefits to EI claimants, up to a maximum of 45 weeks of benefits for people who live in one of 21 economic regions, according to Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development.

"Our government recognizes that not all regions are seeing the same growth and that individuals employed in seasonal work face specific challenges," said Solberg. "This pilot project is intended to test a mechanism for helping seasonal workers who experience an annual income gap due to limited work alternatives in their regions."

Purpose of pilot project

The purpose of an EI pilot project is to conduct a test for a defined period, and to allow the government to assess the labour market impacts of new approaches that are designed to assist the unemployed.

The continuation of the pilot will allow the government to acquire additional data to support a more complete assessment and understanding of the labour market effects of extending EI benefit periods, said Solberg.

"Our government has taken action to support workers as traditional and seasonal industries adjust to global conditions and will continue to do so," he said. "The Government's priority continues to be to help Canadians participate in the labour market."

Background on the pilot project

The government said the extended EI benefits pilot will continue to test whether providing additional weeks would :

•help address the annual income gap faced by seasonal workers whose weeks of work and EI benefits are not sufficient to provide income throughout the year,

•maintain current incentives to work; and

•have any adverse labour market effects on other EI claimants.

The 21 economic regions

The pilot project continues to apply to individuals who claim regular benefits for an interruption in earnings up to and including June 6, 2009, and who live in one of the 21 participating EI economic regions.

The following 21 EI economic regions continue to be included in the Extended EI Benefits pilot project:

•Northern Ontario
•Central Quebec
•Lower Saint Lawrence and North Shore
•North Western Quebec
•Eastern Nova Scotia
•Western Nova Scotia
•Northern Manitoba
•Northern British Columbia
•Prince Edward Island
•Northern Saskatchewan
•St. John's
•Northwest Territories

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