The costs of many things have gone up, sometimes dramatically, in the last year or so.
Interest rates, fuel, insurance, and wages are just a few cost increases hitting businesses. Now Employment Insurance Premium rates are planned to increase.
The EI program is designed to be self-sustaining. The Canada Employment Insurance Commission sets annual rates based on a seven-year break-even forecast. Increases in unemployment and temporary support programs introduced during the pandemic have led to a forecasted cumulative deficit of $18.8 billion on Dec. 31, 2024.
Employers pay 1.4 times the employee rate. The Canada Employment Insurance Commission is recommending employers pay $2.32 per $100 of insurable earnings, up from $2.28. Employees would also see a larger portion of their paycheque go to EI.
In response to this, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has issued a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages Randy Boissonnault.
RE: Potential 2024 Increase in EI Premiums
I’m writing to express our concern about the potential 2024 increase in EI Premiums. EI is a critical program delivered by the federal government. It supports the livelihoods of Canadians and communities during periods of lost income. Temporary program changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic created a significant deficit that according to the 2023 Actuarial Report on the Employment Insurance Premium Rate led the EI Operating Account to a projected cumulative deficit of $25.2 billion by the end of 2023.
Employers understand that EI is an important temporary job-loss protection program and want to ensure it is effective in supporting their employees during periods of transition. However, increases to EI premiums are effectively a tax on employers who pay a disproportionate amount into the program. Increases to EI premiums must take into account the economic challenges faced by businesses in Canada today, and into the future.
High interest rates, inflation and increased labour costs are making it difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to keep their heads above water. Due to continued strength of the labour market, Budget 2023 stated that the EI Premium Rate would hold steady at $1.63 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2024-2025. We understand EI premiums are being reviewed, and our view is that any increases would be ill-timed and unsustainable at a period when most businesses are struggling to resume normal business operations. It is not fair for employers and employees to pay off the deficit incurred through temporary program changes through increased premiums. Consequently, EI premium rates should be maintained at current levels.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce represent businesses of all sizes in all sectors and regions of the country, and we would like to emphasize that any proposed changes to EI must balance the need to support workers while ensuring the program is financially sustainable and promotes a return to the labour force.
Senior Director, Future of Work
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.