Ottawa Removes Freeze On Employment Insurance Premiums

AHN News Staff

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (AHN) – The federal government of Canada will announce on Thursday that it will lift the freeze on Employment Insurance premiums. The freeze was part of the economic stimulus package offered by Ottawa to battle the recession.

The lifting of the freeze was originally scheduled Jan. 1, 2010, but the federal government listened to the warning from business leaders, labor representatives and the political opposition that the move would stymie Canada’s recovery.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ottawa is still reviewing how much the EI rates would go up, but he hinted it would be less than the amount recommended by a rate setting board established by the federal government.

The current rate is $2.42 for employers and $1.73 for employees for every $100 income of the worker. The board recommended a 21 cents hike for employers and 15 cents increase for employees.

On Wednesday, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff withdrew his support for a bill that would improve EI benefits. Ignatieff explained his change of stand to the enhancements being too expensive and no longer needed because it was a product of the recession.

Ignatieff used the EI reforms last year to push for a federal election. His withdraw of support for the bill filed by Bloc Quebecois MP Yves Lessard is a personal stand, not a party stand, Ignatieff clarified.

Lessard’s bill proposed reducing the qualifying period for EI from the present 420 hours minimum to 360 hours, hiking the weekly earnings from 55 percent to 60 percent of past earnings and increasing the length of time benefits could be collected.

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