Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

December 09, 2009 11:28 ET

Canada's Economic Action Plan Helps More Canadians Continue Working Through Work-Sharing

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 9, 2009) - Canada's Economic Action Plan is supporting Canadian workers with enhancements to the Work-Sharing program, enabling more Canadians to continue working while companies experience a temporary slowdown.

"Work-Sharing is a win-win for employers and employees," said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. "That is why our government's Economic Action Plan makes it easier for Canadian businesses and employees to take advantage of it."

Recognizing the uncertainty facing many businesses during the economic downturn, the Government extended the duration of Work-Sharing agreements to a maximum of 52 weeks until April 2010, increased access to Work-Sharing by providing greater flexibility in the qualifying criteria and streamlined processes for employers. These measures have resulted in a large increase in the number of people benefiting from the Work-Sharing program.

As of November 29, 2009, there were close to 6,000 Work-Sharing agreements nationally, benefiting almost 167,000 Canadians.

Employers in key sectors of the economy, such as forestry and manufacturing, are using Work-Sharing. Many of these businesses across Canada are ending their participation early as they recover and reach normal operations.

Examples of Work-Sharing success stories

Global Upholstery

In Ontario, there are over 2,800 Work-Sharing agreements with close to 90,000 workers participating. One of these agreements is with Global Upholstery, a major office furniture manufacturer in Toronto, where almost 1,000 employees are benefiting.

Nova Agri Inc.

In Nova Scotia, there are close to 50 Work-Sharing agreements with almost 1,900 workers participating. One of these agreements was with Nova Agri Inc., a farming organization located in Centreville. The company began their agreement in January 2009 and have since returned to normal business activities. At Nova Agri Inc., close to 20 employees were benefiting from the program.

Univeyor BC Ltd. and True North Furniture Co.

In British Columbia, there are over 1,100 Work-Sharing agreements involving more than 18,000 workers. One of these agreements is with Univeyor BC Ltd., a manufacturer specializing in conveyor products and systems in Burnaby. At Univeyor, close to 20 employees have been benefiting since February 2009. There is also an agreement with True North Furniture Co., a manufacturer of solid wood furniture. True North Furniture Co. began a Work-Sharing agreement benefiting 15 employees in March 2009. The company ended their agreement early and all of the employees have returned to normal working hours.

Doepker Industries Ltd.

In Saskatchewan, there are close to 40 Work-Sharing agreements with more than 1,500 workers participating. One of these agreements is with Doepker Industries Ltd., a manufacturer of highway semi-trailers located in Annaheim. At Doepker Industries, close to 50 employees have been benefiting from Work-Sharing since July 2009.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.


Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary downturn in business avoid layoffs by offering Employment Insurance (EI) Part I income support to workers willing to work a reduced work week while the company recovers. Under Work-Sharing, employers can retain employees and avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs. Employees are able to continue working and keep their skills up to date.

The objective of the temporary policy change announced in Canada's Economic Action Plan is to increase access to Work-Sharing during this difficult economic time. Also, extending the duration of Work-Sharing agreements to a total maximum of 52 weeks allows a longer period for companies to recover.

The employer must have been in business in Canada for at least two years and be able to show that the need for reduced hours is temporary and unavoidable-not a cyclical situation. The employer must produce a recovery plan detailing how the company will remain viable during the period of the agreement and recover as the economy strengthens.

To qualify for Work-Sharing, permanent full- and part-time employees must be eligible to receive regular EI benefits. A minimum of two employees is necessary for a Work-Sharing agreement.

More information is available on the following Web site:

Contact Information

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