Starting next month, the Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period will be shortened from two weeks to one week.
The waiting period acts like the deductible that must be paid for other types of insurance. Shortening the waiting period is expected to ease the financial strain for EI claimants and will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually beginning next year.
For example, for an eligible claimant who is laid off and subsequently finds work after 12 weeks, the change means that up to 11 weeks of EI benefits will be payable whereas only up to 10 weeks are currently payable. The reduction of the waiting period applies to all types of EI benefits—regular, fishing, sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, parents of critically ill children, and special benefits for self-employed individuals.
While claimants are still entitled to the same maximum number of weeks of EI benefits, the waiting period may have indirect implications for workers and employers who have top-up arrangements that supplement EI. Reducing the waiting period shifts forward the period during which EI benefits are payable. In some cases, employer payments that supplement EI maternity and parental benefits may be aligned to the two-week waiting period and the reduction of the waiting period may have impacts for workers or employers.