Earnings Supplement Project (ESP) – Understanding Employment Insurance Claim Patterns: Final Report of ESP

March 2004


This report contains a series of lessons learned from the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation’s research on work and reliance on Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. These lessons lead to the general conclusion that workers’ frequent reliance on EI should not be viewed simply as a problem of workers becoming familiar with the program and learning how to benefit from its rules and provisions; rather, in many cases, it is a symptom of their difficulties in finding year-round employment due to inadequate skills, insufficient education or limited job opportunities in their region. The lessons also caution against concluding that non-reliance on EI necessarily reflects better labour market outcomes. For many workers, their non-reliance on EI can reflect the barriers they face in securing stable employment or their inability to qualify for benefits. The report concludes by examining the EI program itself to better understand its shortcomings and to identify priorities for future research.