Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

May 01, 2009 10:53 ET

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

PORT DOVER, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 1, 2009) - Canada's Economic Action Plan is strengthening benefits for Canadian workers by extending and easing access to Work-Sharing agreements, so more Canadians can continue working while companies experience a temporary slowdown.

"Our Government knows that, by keeping Canadians working, we can minimize the impact of this difficult economic time," said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, while speaking to members of the Port Dover Board of Trade. "The changes to Work-Sharing agreements are providing companies with an opportunity to have easier access to these agreements and extend them to 52 weeks while they recover from temporary slowdowns."

Work-Sharing, an element of the Employment Insurance (EI) program, can be instrumental in assisting 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.

Currently, Work-Sharing is protecting over 93,000 jobs across Canada. There are ten agreements in Haldimand-Norfolk with about 400 employees participating.

One of these agreements is with Toyotetsu. Established in February 2006, the company is a stamping and welding facility that manufactures automotive parts for Toyota. At Toyotetsu, more than 200 workers have been involved in Work-Sharing since March 1, 2009.

Employers in key sectors of the economy, such as forestry and manufacturing, have already been using Work-Sharing.

Recognizing the current level of uncertainty faced by many businesses during volatile global markets, the Government is extending, over the next two years, Work-Sharing agreements to a maximum of 52 weeks, and increasing access to Work-Sharing through greater flexibility in the qualifying criteria and streamlining processes for employers.

This measure is estimated to cost $200 million over two years and will minimize the financial impact of the economic downturn by helping companies avoid layoffs while their industry recovers.


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 they work for 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 criteria of Work-Sharing agreements to a total maximum of 52 weeks will allow a longer period for companies to recover.

Under the former Canada Employment Insurance Commission policy, the need to reduce the normal level of business activity had to be beyond the control of the employer. In addition, the employer had to provide a Recovery Plan that described the activities to be undertaken to return to normal production at the end of the Work-Sharing agreement, which was normally a maximum of 26 weeks, but could be extended by up to an additional 12 weeks to a maximum of 38 weeks under exceptional circumstances.

Workers laid off at the end of their participation in Work-Sharing may receive their full entitlement to regular EI benefits based on their rate of pay prior to participating in the program.

For more information on Work-Sharing, please visit the following Web site:

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

Contact Information

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