Pandemic pushed up timeline for long-sought EI review, Qualtrough says


OTTAWA — Canada’s employment minister says plans to revamp the employment insurance system have been put on a faster path thanks to COVID-19.

The pandemic has exposed shortcomings in EI, including that not every worker is covered, nor can everyone who is covered get benefits when they need them.

Mending those cracks through consultations, testing and implementation may have taken years, assuming elections or changing political priorities didn’t blow it astray.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough instead tells The Canadian Press that COVID-19 gave the federal government a chance to test ideas such as setting one common entry requirement.

She also says the emergency benefits rolled out during the pandemic helped test coverage for self-employed and gig workers who are often left out of EI.

Qualtrough hinted discussions may start soon about what changes should become permanent, and other additions the system may need.