By Employment and Social Development Canada
The Employment Insurance (EI) program provides crucial temporary income supports to Canadians in need. When Canadians identify potential discrepancies made regarding their claims or benefits, it’s important that they have access to a client-centric appeal process. That’s why today, the Government of Canada introduced a bill to amend the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and make consequential changes to other acts to enable the creation of the new EI Board of Appeal.
Under this bill, the EI Board of Appeal would become responsible for hearing first-level EI appeals, which are currently heard by the Social Security Tribunal, EI General Division. The EI Board of Appeal will operate as a tripartite decision-making tribunal overseen by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. As a tripartite organization, the new Board of Appeal would represent the interests of government, workers and employers, helping put first-level EI appeal decisions back into the hands of those who pay into the EI system. Second-level appeals will continue to be heard by the Appeal Division under the Social Security Tribunal.
The creation of the EI Board of Appeal is a significant reform to the EI recourse process and is the outcome of consultations with Canadians and key stakeholders across the country, including labour and employer groups. The Government of Canada has committed to ensuring that reforms to the EI appeals process are informed by feedback from Canadians and stakeholder groups, and has undertaken several rounds of stakeholder consultations since 2017, including as recently as September 2022. These consultations have been a central part of developing the legislation tabled today, which will create a first-level EI appeal process that is more responsive to the needs of Canadians.
Until the EI Board of Appeal is operational, the Social Security Tribunal will continue to hear first-level EI appeals. To ensure smooth operations following the launch of the Board of Appeal, there will be a transition period during which the new EI Board of Appeal and the Social Security Tribunal will run in parallel.
“This is another step towards ensuring that Canadians are put at the heart of the appeals process. Thank you to the many Canadians across the country and the labour and employer groups who helped shape today’s legislation. Your participation in the consultations has been essential to building an appeal process for Employment Insurance that is more responsive to the needs of workers from coast to coast to coast.”
-Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
- In March 2017, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development commissioned a comprehensive third-party review of the Social Security Tribunal, which currently hears first-level EI appeals. Extensive consultations were undertaken throughout the course of this review, including with Canadians, labour groups, unions, employers, advocacy groups, the legal community, clients of the appeal process under the Tribunal, and client representatives.
- Engagement with key external stakeholders, including the Canada Employment Insurance Commissioners and representatives from the employer and worker communities, was held to examine recommendations and discuss other potential improvements.
- In summer 2022, the Government undertook another round of consultations with Canadians and stakeholder groups. Participants shared their views on the design of a new process to appeal an EI benefits decision and how an EI appeal hearing takes place.
- First-level EI appeals are currently heard by the Social Security Tribunal, General Division.