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Employment Insurance Act

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  • Employment Insurance Act

    A retired federal judge says the employment insurance plan is unfair to women. Roger Salhany, acting as an umpire under the Employment Insurance Act, agreed with the argument that many women work part time because they're taking care of children and can't work the 700 hours necessary to qualify for benefits.

    The case was brought by Kelly Lesiuk, a nurse in Winnipeg.

    Kelly Lesiuk
    She said she had to quit work early in her pregnancy for health reasons. She went back to work six weeks after her baby was born by caesarean-section. Still, she ended up a few hours short of the required time.

    She says because she wasn't eligible for benefits, she and her husband ran up huge credit card bills and cashed in their RRSPs to try to pay their bills.

    In closing arguments, federal lawyer Ted Fulcher said it's not that difficult to work the 700 required hours, considering full time employees work about 2,000 hours a year.

    Lesiuk's lawyer, Byron Williams, said his client and her husband paid into the employment insurance plan for years and, "It wasn't there for them when they needed it."

    Williams cited a federal survey conducted last year that showed more men qualified for employment insurance than women.

    The Lesiuk case is just one of dozens challenging the Employment Insurance Act.

    Since Salhany was acting as an umpire under the Employment Insurance Act his ruling doesn't mean the Act is invalid.

    But if the Federal Court upholds the decision on appeal, Parliament would have to act.

    Did you think it was fair that not finishing their 700 hours, they won't qualify for benefits? Do you think it's fair now?

  • #2
    I think it doesn't matter unless one is living in Canada. I believe this site just deals with U.S. employment laws.


    • #3
      Canada Employment Insurance Act

      While it is true that the majority of issues on this board are US based, there are a few Canada-based questions that have been answered here. For information about the Employment Insurance Act, you can look at the following website:

      Getting back to your question on whether it is fair that the employee was denied benefits because she did not finish the 700 hours, I believe it is fair. The reason is this: Employment Insurance is similar to any pays into a plan for coverage should they and the situation meet the eligibility coverage. If every person paying into the plan were to receive benefits equal to the amount they paid into the plan, it is tantamount to a savings plan. If one were to expect to receive a greater amount that paid into the plan, then no insurance plan could expect to remain in business....they would be taking a loss on every participant. This concept is illustrated by the problems facting the US social security system, too many claims by persons who are eligible for coverage. While the system may have been viable if it was a case of a quasi-savings plan, the SS system has been expanded to include persons who need economic assistance during tough times (welfare) and aid to those who paid minimal benefits to the system. As a result of that expansion, persons who have paid into the plan their entire life cannot expect to receive all of that money back...perhaps none of it back in the case of a young person today and talk that Social Security may be bankrupt by the time that they want to access the money.
      Lillian Connell

      Forum Moderator


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