Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

June 12, 2009 09:19 ET

Canada's Economic Action Plan: Helping the Unemployed

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 12, 2009) - Canada's Economic Action Plan is achieving results, the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, told an audience of business leaders at the Economic Club of Canada today.

Since February, the Government of Canada has taken steps to ensure that Canadians have the support they need to face the challenges of a global economic slowdown. Investments have been made to help workers and the unemployed through income support, to protect and create jobs, and to help prepare Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow.

"Our government knows that, by keeping Canadians working, we can minimize the impact of these economic times," said Minister Finley. "This is what makes an economy work. Jobs are the key to our economic recovery and to attaining our long-term economic goals. We are making good progress. Our government is making record investments to stimulate the economy, support the unemployed, preserve jobs and prepare Canadians for the jobs of the future."

Across Canada, workers and the employed can count on support through the Employment Insurance (EI) program, which is designed to recognize the diverse labour market situations that exist across the country. When unemployment goes up in a particular region, the number of hours required to qualify for EI decreases, making it easier to access EI. In addition, the duration of benefits increases.

As a result of this flexibility, since October 2008, more than 85 per cent of Canadian workers are able to access EI benefits more easily, with fewer hours being required to qualify and for longer periods of time.

The Government has introduced several improvements to the EI program, with the following results:

- Since January 2009, nearly 80 per cent of Canadians have received their first EI cheque within 28 days on average, despite a dramatic increase in claims;

- This year, the Government is providing an additional $5.5 billion in EI benefits over last year;

- Providing an extra five weeks of EI benefits to more than 155,000 Canadians;

- Freezing the EI premium rate until 2010 at its lowest level since 1982. This represents projected relief to employees and employers of $10.5 billion over two years;

- Providing greater flexibility and streamlined processes so more businesses can qualify for Work-Sharing agreements, which have benefited more than 120,000 Canadians so far;

- More than 3,200 applications have been made under the Wage Earner Protection Program, with $1.7 million paid out to date.

Through the Canada Skills and Transition Strategy, Canada's Economic Action Plan is investing in training for workers affected by the global slowdown and creating new opportunities for workers in the longer term by:

- Providing an additional $1.5 billion to the provinces and territories to help them address local training needs, which will help about 150,000 Canadians;

- Helping over 40,000 long-tenured Canadians make the transition into another career through Career Transition Assistance;

- Encouraging approximately 20,000 apprentices to complete their training by offering $2,000 grants under the Apprenticeship Completion Grant;

- Helping more than 39,000 youth find jobs and gain access to valuable work experience through a $20-million increase to the Canada Summer Jobs program, and by providing grants totalling $15 million to YMCA and YWCA; and

- Helping Aboriginal people secure long-term jobs through the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership program and the Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.

These initiatives are part of the Economic Action Plan's total investment of $62 billion designed to:

- permanently reduce taxes;

- help the unemployed;

- avoid layoffs by enhancing the Work-Sharing program;

- protect and create jobs through a massive injection of infrastructure spending;

- help create the economy of tomorrow by improving infrastructure at colleges and universities and supporting research and technology;

- support industries and communities most affected by the global downturn; and

- improve access to and the affordability of financing for Canadian households and business.


Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government is enhancing support to Canadians during the global recession, and is investing in the country's long-term growth. The Canada Skills and Transition Strategy is supporting workers and their families, and includes measures for income support, training and skills development.

Investments announced by the Government of Canada include:

Increased Income Support to Unemployed Canadians

More than 85 per cent of Canadian workers now have easier access to and longer Employment Insurance (EI) benefits compared to last fall. Every month, the number of work hours needed to qualify for EI benefits and the number of weeks of benefits people receive are adjusted based on the most recent local unemployment figures.

Canadian workers are now able to receive up to an extra five weeks of EI regular benefits. As of May 24, 2009, more than 155,000 unemployed Canadian workers had received additional benefits. This new measure, with an estimated cost of $1.15 billion, came into effect on March 1, 2009.

The Government has also invested $60 million to ensure that EI benefits continue to be delivered quickly. Since January 2009, nearly 80 per cent of Canadians received their first cheques within 28 days on average, despite a dramatic increase in EI claims.

In addition, the EI premium has been frozen until 2010 at $1.73 per $100, its lowest level since 1982. These savings for employees and employers represent projected relief of $10.5 billion over 2009 and 2010.

To protect jobs, the Government has extended Work-Sharing agreements by 14 weeks to a maximum of 52 weeks for the next two years, at an estimated cost of $200 million. Work-Sharing can help businesses experiencing a temporary slowdown caused by factors beyond their control. It is designed to avoid layoffs by offering EI income benefits to qualifying workers willing to work a reduced work week while their employer recovers. To date, more than 3,500 businesses have entered into Work-Sharing agreements, helping about 120,000 employees across Canada.

The Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) provides eligible workers with guaranteed and timely payment of wages and severance, termination and vacation pay owed if their employer becomes bankrupt and does not pay. As of April 30, 2009, more than 3,200 applications had been made under the WEPP since the budget announcement, and $1.7 million has already been paid.

Improving Access to Skills and Training for Canadians

The Government of Canada is providing an additional $1.5 billion to the provinces and territories to help them address local skills and training needs. Provincial and territorial initiatives will help about 150,000 Canadians affected by the economic downturn-whether or not they are eligible for EI-upgrade their skills, get on-the-job experience, make the transition to new work or become self-employed.

Long-tenured workers who have lost their jobs will be eligible to receive additional support to assist them in transitioning to a new career. Career Transition Assistance consists of two initiatives to provide additional support to long-tenured workers. One initiative extends the duration of EI benefits for eligible workers who participate in longer-term training up to two years. The other initiative allows earlier access to EI regular income benefits for eligible workers who invest in their own training by using all or part of their severance package. Over 40,000 individuals are expected to benefit from these two measures.

Through the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program, more workers in a larger number of affected communities are receiving additional support. The program, which targets older workers aged 55 to 64, has received increased funding of $60 million over three years. The increased funding will enable more older workers to receive support for skills upgrading and work experience that they need to transition to new jobs. Up to 7,300 additional participants could benefit from the increased funding.

The new Apprenticeship Completion Grant is a $2,000 cash grant that the Government will provide to approximately 20,000 registered apprentices per year who complete their training and become certified journeypersons in a designated Red Seal trade. This new grant complements the existing Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, through which registered apprentices are eligible for a $1,000 grant for each of their first or second year or level of apprenticeship training in a designated Red Seal trade. By combining the two grants, apprentices can be eligible for up to $4,000 upon certification in a designated Red Seal trade.

Canada Summer Jobs funding has increased by $20 million over the next two years. This program supports valuable work experience and learning opportunities for students to help them prepare for the workforce. As well, not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees can create jobs that meet their needs. With this increase, nationwide, 21,800 organizations will be able to create more than 39,000 summer job opportunities for students.

Grants totalling $15 million to YMCA and YWCA will fund a new internship program to help young Canadians across the country get valuable work experience. With a focus on environmental projects with not-for profit and community services organizations, these internships will help up to 1,000 youth through paid work placements across Canada.

To help Aboriginal people, the Government of Canada has invested an additional $100 million over three years for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership program to help support new projects. To date, five additional large-scale projects have been approved, for a total of $18.8 million, which will help secure long-term jobs for approximately 1,300 Aboriginal individuals. In addition, $75 million will support short-term focused initiatives to help approximately 3,700 Aboriginal people obtain specific skills they require to benefit from economic opportunities through the Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.

An investment of $50 million over two years will help develop a common approach to foreign credential recognition. This investment will help ensure that internationally educated professionals have their qualifications assessed and recognized in a manner that is fair, consistent, transparent and rigorous.

To learn more about Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Finley
    Michelle Bakos
    Press Secretary
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    National Media Relations Office