Extended EI benefits surpass budget expectations
The federal Liberals are looking for answers after the government’s program to help workers in hard-hit economic regions of the country blew past budget expectations, with spending now topping $1.3 billion.
The government figured that just 235,000 people would use extra weeks of employment insurance benefits when they unveiled the program last year to help workers in 15 regions of the country with stubborn unemployment rates.
That was projected to cost the government $827.4 million between April 2016 and March 2019.
But as of July 9, Employment and Social Development Canada said that it had spent just under $1.31 billion on the extra weeks of benefits for 317,261 claimants.
The spending figure may yet change as officials pore over the last few claims that trickled in by last week’s deadline for program eligibility.
A report will be coming out in September with a revised cost for the program.
A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said that the high cost for the program was one of the reasons it wasn’t renewed and that a review is underway to determine why costs exceeded estimates.
Opposition critics argued the fault lay in the Liberals’ economic policy.
Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre said the government’s moves to increase taxes had a negative effect on hiring, which meant more spending on employment insurance programs.