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October 14, 2021

Providing Gig Workers with EI: No Easy Answer

  • There is no easy solution to the challenge of including gig workers or self-employed workers in Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system, according to a new report released by the C.D. Howe Institute.
  • Author David Gray casts an evaluative lens on the case – especially as ‘gig workers’ have become a fixture in the modern workforce.
  • Federal Budget 2021 proposed forthcoming consultations on long-term reforms to EI and allocated funding to the federal Employment and Social Development Canada department to examine the issue of providing employment insurance to gig workers who are not entitled to it under the current regime.
  • In his research, Gray considers two alternative approaches (i) integrating gig workers into the standard, regular-benefit EI regime along the lines of the Special Benefits for Self-employed Workers program, which involves voluntary participation, and (ii) the creation of a special, separate regime for gig workers. Ultimately, he determines that both options are economically unfeasible.
David Gray

David Gray is a Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa.