Harper Government Announces Changes To Employment Insurance For Incarcerated Individuals

Pipestone Flyer

PONOKA, ALBERTA, July 4, 2013 — Blaine Calkins, Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today highlighted modifications to the Employment Insurance Act that remove preferential access to Employment Insurance benefits for convicted criminals. Bill C-316, introduced by Richard Harris, Member of Parliament for Cariboo–Prince George in British Columbia, received Royal Assent on June 26, 2013.

“Employment Insurance is meant to support Canadians who lose their jobs through no fault of their own while they look for work or upgrade their skills,” said Calkins. “This bill removes preferential treatment for convicted felons, and returns them to the same rules as law-abiding citizens.”

    Individuals who are incarcerated are not entitled to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits while detained. However, under the current legislation, claimants can have their EI qualifying and/or benefit periods extended beyond the usual 52 weeks for each week they are confined in a jail, penitentiary or similar institution. The result is that prisoners have greater access to EI benefits.

    As of June 30, 2013, individuals who are incarcerated and found guilty of an offence for which they are being detained will no longer be able to benefit from these extensions. Individuals not found guilty of the charges for which they were held will continue to benefit from the extensions as provided under the current provisions. However, to prove they were not found guilty, these individuals will have to wait for the outcome of their judicial proceedings before requesting an extension of their qualifying and/or benefit period.

    For more information on EI benefits, visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca/ei.