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EI Rate Freeze Not a Premium Freeze

On September 9, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, announced that the Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate for employees will be frozen at the 2013 level of $1.88 per $100 of insurable earnings for the years 2014-2016. However, this does not necessarily mean Canadians won’t be paying more. In fact, although the rate is the same and will stay that way for two more years, the premiums paid by employees and by employers will increase each year. For example, for 2014, the maximum insurable earning will increase from $47,400 to $48,600 so the maximum employee premiums will increase from $891.12 to $913.68. For employers, the maximum premiums will increase from $1,247.57 to $1,279.15. A rate freeze, in other words, is not a premium freeze. The EI premium rate will be set annually at a seven-year break-even rate starting in 2017. This will ensure, according to the government, that EI premiums are no higher than needed to pay for the EI program over that seven-year period.

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