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Just say no to EI premium hike: Surrey Board of Trade

Hikes to employee and employers EI premiums to pay for deficit from pandemic
Canada's employment insurance deficit ballooned to $18.8 billion, largely due to the pandemic.

The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the federal government to reject a hike proposed for employment insurance premiums in 2024.

The premium hike recommendation comes from the the Canada Employment Insurance Commission’s Actuarial Report on Employment Insurance, which is proposing to hike premiums to $1.66 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and $2.32 for employers.

The hike represents a three cent increase over the current rates of $1.63 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and a four-cent increase for the employers’ current rate of $2.28 per $100 of insurable earnings.

“This comes even as claimants are at historic lows and there is an increased number of contributors,” the Surrey Board of Trade says in a press release. “The reason for this increase is to pay down the debt that has accumulated in the account due to temporary measures introduced during the pandemic.”

The commission is responsible for setting EI premiums to ensure a seven-year break-even rate. So many Canadians were laid off during the pandemic that EI payouts soared, creating a major deficit of $18.8 billion. Its unfair to ask businesses to make up that deficit, the board of trade argues, saying the EI account deficit should be covered through general taxation.

The board of rrade is calling on Randy Boissonault, federal minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, to reject the recommended premium hikes.

“The federal cabinet has the right and authority to override the recommendations of the commission by September 30, 2023,” said Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman. 

“We need Minister Boissonnault to intervene as the cost to businesses will substantially increase yet again. The business community was assured that any pandemic-related program costs would be paid through general revenues.

“Businesses did everything they could to stay open and retain their employees during the course of the pandemic, and only closed because of public health mandates for the good of Canadians everywhere,” Huberman said. “The responsibility to pay for these programs should not fall on the shoulders of employers. This is not right.”

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