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Marie-Anne DAYÉ

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Employment insurance also for TFWs

Temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in Baie-Saint-Paul have applied for employment insurance benefits due to a temporary layoff by their employer. Services de main-d’œuvre l’Appui called on Service Canada to help the TFWs concerned complete their application.

Text and photos: Marie-Anne Dayé

How does Employment Insurance work? Who is eligible? How do I apply? These were the questions answered by two Service Canada agents at an information session held on April 18, 2024 in Baie-Saint-Paul, at the initiative of Services de main-d’œuvre l’Appui. This organization, funded by the Government of Canada under the Migrant Worker Support Program (MWSP), informs workers in the region of their rights and responsibilities, and organizes activities to break routine and isolation.

Geneviève Blondeau, coordinator for the Chaudière-Appalaches and Capitale-Nationale regions, presented the general information guide for TFWs, accompanied by Pascale Vallée, cultural liaison officer at SANA Charlevoix, who organized the information session.

Some workers have been involuntarily laid off by their employer due to a lack of work. These workers are entitled to regular Employment Insurance benefits, provided they hold a valid work permit, and have completed at least 420 to 700 hours (depending on the regional unemployment rate) of work in the last 52 weeks, or have suffered an involuntary job loss or a 40% drop in work (e.g., the employer gives only 2 days of work instead of the usual 5 days per week). Regular benefits allow workers to receive up to 55% of their income for a maximum of 45 weeks.

As the application website is in English or French, Canada’s two official languages, some workers need to be accompanied to complete the application. An interpreter can be obtained by visiting a Service Canada office in person. It is also possible to be accompanied by a trusted interpreter for simultaneous translation.

It’s important to note that even if the employer notifies the employee in advance of a possible layoff, you must wait until the date of termination to apply for Employment Insurance. Moreover, you must not wait more than four weeks after termination of employment to apply, otherwise there is a risk of losing benefits.

What about seasonal workers?

Like any other worker, seasonal workers have access to employment insurance if they meet the eligibility criteria. In fact, the government offers additional weeks (between 5 and 9) of regular benefits to seasonal workers living in certain regions.

However, given their short presence on Canadian territory during the year, some workers may encounter certain obstacles. For example, Mexican workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) can stay in Quebec for a maximum of 8 months, between January 1 and December 15. The problem is linked to the temporary status,” explains Felipe González Lugo Méndez, Consul of Mexico in Montreal. Benefits are calculated on the basis of earnings over the last 52 weeks. If the TFW in question was in Mexico a few weeks before, this becomes problematic.

What’s more, according to Employment and Social Development Canada’s Media Information Office, “claimants are usually not entitled to receive regular benefits while outside Canada, unless the reason for the trip is one of those prescribed in the Employment Insurance Regulations.

 

The project was funded by the Government of Canada.

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