OTTAWA — Internal government documents show that the Liberals' pledge to prevent unvaccinated people from accessing jobless benefits didn't eliminate all avenues for them to enter the employment insurance system.
The briefing notes prepared for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough say that unvaccinated workers could qualify for EI sickness benefits, even if they are sick with COVID-19.
The laws guiding the social safety net program don't have any explicit rules around eligibility for EI for anyone who refused to get vaccinated.
While Qualtrough was told the government could put rules around regular jobless benefits, officials suggested the same couldn't be said of sickness benefits.
Documents prepared by Qualtrough's department last fall suggest officials advised against preventing access to sickness benefits and removing an incentive for ill workers to stay home with symptoms.
The details are contained in documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act that outline some of the moves inside government as officials readied for a wave of layoffs for workers who refused to get vaccinated.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2022.
The Canadian Press