The Canadian federal government has announced that effective December 18, 2022, the Employment Insurance (EI) sickness program will be moving from 15 weeks to 26 weeks.1
Changes to the EI program
Individuals who qualify and establish a new claim on or after December 18, 2022, will be able to receive up to 26 weeks of EI sickness benefits if they are sick and require this time to recover. EI sickness benefits are paid at 55% of the applicant’s average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum entitlement of $638 for 2022. Claims established effective January 2023 will have the maximum entitlement increase to $650 per week.2
What does this mean for employers?
Research shows that employees who are out of work longer than six months have less than a 40% to 50% chance of returning to work.3 While these changes provide employees with increased income support periods, having a robust disability management program in place to manage absence durations and reduce Long-Term Disability (LTD) claims is now more important than ever.
If your Short-Term Disability (STD) management program currently meets the criteria for the Premium Rate Reduction (PRP),4 it will remain eligible. “The EI extension of EI sickness benefits will not have any immediate impact on the requirements that wage loss replacement plans must meet to qualify for a premium reduction under the Premium Reduction Program (PRP). These requirements will remain unchanged for the time being.” We will monitor and share any updates on the PRP eligibility as they are known.
If your LTD program has a qualifying period of less than 27 weeks, you will want to ensure employees are submitting their applications on time to prevent any period of overlap between EI and LTD payments.
While you are under no legal obligation at this time to make any plan changes, please speak with your Benefits Consultant if you are considering aligning with the extended EI program, as there may be impacts to your STD and/or LTD rates.
For more information on our wellness and disability service offerings, please visit us at:
Return To Health®
Return To Health® wellness and disability services delivered by Cowan can help reduce absence durations, prevent Long-Term Disability claims, manage rising premiums and benefit costs, and improve your workforce’s overall health and productivity. Our multidisciplinary case managers work with you, your employees and their healthcare team to facilitate a safe, early, and sustainable return to work.
1 Canada.ca (2022, November 25). Government of Canada Improves Sickness Benefits Under the Employment Insurance System. Retrieved from URL.
2 Canada.ca (2022, November 14). Employment Insurance-Important Notice about Maximum Insurable Earnings for 2023. Retrieved from URL.
3 National Library of Medicine (2016, September 8). Factors Affecting Return to Work After Injury or Illness: Best Evidence Synthesis of Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from URL.
4 Canada.ca (2022, January 6). Employment Insurance Premium Rebate. Retrieved from URL.