March 28, 2012
Ottawa to limit employment insurance rate increases
The federal government Thursday announced it will limit employment insurance premium rate increases to no more than five cents per year, create a link between the EI and Temporary Foreign Worker programs and add engineering technicians to the list of occupations in which foreign qualifications will be assessed within one year.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year in Ottawa. Included are several changes to IE.
The Economic Action Plan for 2012 proposes to limit the rate increase in premiums to no more than five cents a year until the operating account is balanced. The Canadian Employment Insurance Financing Board will actually set the rates.
In addition, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper aims to improve the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications. Initially launched in 2009, this program is designed to help highly skilled immigrants find work related to their training and would eventually have the foreign qualifications of all regulated professionals assessed within one year.
The target occupations in 2010 included architects and engineers. Engineering technicians are among the 2012 target occupations.
Another measure in the 2012 budget affecting the labour market is the temporary hiring tax credit. In the 2011 budget, the federal government announced the $1,000 one-time credit to apply against a company’s increase in EI premiums. This year’s budget extends that to 2012 and will be available to about 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were at or below $10,000 in 2011.
The government announced in the budget package it is “developing approaches to notify EI claimnants when employers are looking for workers, and to inform employers if there are EI claimnants in the same region who match the open positions.” The government also said it will create a link between the EI program and the Temporary Foreign Worker program to help make local and qualified Canadian workers aware of vacancies, “while ensuring temporary foreign workers are employed where they are most needed.”
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