EI disqualification temporary for many, says Ottawa

The cutting off of employment insurance benefits will only be temporary for many Canadians, says the federal government.

An analysis by CBC News earlier this week found 16,190 more Canadians were disqualified from receiving EI in the first four months of 2013, when compared to the first four months of 2012, an increase of 4.33 per cent.

Those numbers were unevenly distributed across Canada, ranging from an increase of 8.33 per cent in P.E.I. to a decrease of 15.24 per cent in Alberta.

The increase in disqualifications comes after changes that require recipients to look further from home for work and consider lower-paying jobs. When it made the changes, the government estimated about 8,000 Canadians would have their benefits temporarily discontinued.

It expected those benefits would be restored once those people demonstrated they were meeting their responsibilities under these regulations.

"Our government is making common-sense changes to help better connect unemployed Canadians with available jobs in their local area that match their skills," said Jan O’Driscoll, press secretary for Human Resources Minister Diane Finley in an email to CBC News.

"This initiative is clarifying, not changing, the responsibilities of Canadians who are collecting EI. For those who are unable to find employment, Employment Insurance will be there for them, as it always has been."

From December 2012 to April 2013, the number of EI recipients in Canada fell from 542,000 to 522,000. Over that same time period the number of unemployed rose slightly from 1,358,000 to 1,361,000.