The pandemic has exposed major shortcomings in the main pillar of Canada’s social safety net: the Employment Insurance system. The current system — designed in the 1970s and updated in the 1990s — was showing its age prior to the pandemic, as many unemployed Canadians struggled to qualify for benefits or to find permanent work before their benefits ran out. Looking ahead to the post-pandemic recovery, how can Canada modernize its EI system to better suit the needs of working-age adults in the 21st century?
That’s what was up for discussion at this IRPP webinar. Our panel featured three of the country’s top experts on the matter: Tammy Schirle (Wilfrid Laurier University), Stephanie Lluis and Mikal Skuterud (both of the University of Waterloo) along with the IRPP’s Colin Busby acting as moderator.
An initiative of the research program The Social Safety Net for Working-Age Adults.
Stéphanie Lluis is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo. She completed her PhD from the University of Montreal while also visiting the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Since 2016, she has been the Director of the SouthWestern Ontario Research Data Center, which serves researchers at the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph. Her areas of specialization are labour economics and personnel economics. Her latest research focuses on the impact of changes to the Canadian employment insurance program on re-employment outcomes, skill changes, and spousal labour supply adjustments.
Mikal Skuterud a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and is affiliated with the Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF) and the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). He received his Master’s degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia and his PhD in Economics from McMaster University. His research interests include: the labour market integration of immigrants, labour market policies that influence hours of work, and the economics of trade unions. His work has appeared in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the Canadian Journal of Economics and has received national media coverage in the New York Times and the Globe and Mail.
Colin Busby is a research director at the IRPP. Prior to this, he was the associate director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute. He has also worked at Industry Canada and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. While he writes broadly on economic issues, his emphasis is on fiscal and social policy.