Migrant Rights Network Brief – Employment Insurance for Migrants

This submission by Migrant Rights Network addresses the glaring and unjust gap in the EI program that denies income security to an entire group of unemployed workers. Fixing this gap requires reforms to EI as well as immigration laws.

We are making the following recommendations in addition to those by the Interprovincial EI Working Group.

Solution #1: Canada must reform its immigration laws to ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrant and undocumented people in Canada. In the short-term, all restrictions on work must be removed including employer specific work permits, restrictions on hours of work, and exclusion of work in “businesses related to sex trade”.  

Solution #2: Canada must amend the Employment Insurance Act to ensure that all work in Canada is “insurable” for the purposes of accessing EI, regardless of SIN. Canada should pursue employers who fail to submit EI premiums, rather than punishing workers. 

Solution #3: In order to end disentitlement due to administrative error, Service Canada must immediately issue instructions to Service Canada agents confirming eligibility for EI for migrant workers and ensure this information is incorporated into training. 

Solution #4: Service Canada must ensure the EI application process is accessible to all, including through interpretation services, simple explanations of the process, clear information upfront that the Record of Employment is not needed to submit an application, and alternatives to online applications / communications. 

Solution #5: Amend the Employment Insurance Regulation to end discriminatory disentitlements to special benefits for workers outside of the country or with expired SINs. 

Solution #6: Canada must take all steps necessary to ensure that information workers submit to EI is not shared with immigration officials.