OTTAWA -- Contentious changes to employment insurance are now in effect.
Beginning Sunday, people on EI face stricter, more complex rules for keeping their benefits, with the goal of getting unemployed workers back into the workforce sooner.
To help people get back to work, the government has also launched a new service to provide information on available jobs and labour-market conditions to subscribers via email.
"The new job-alerts system is an important part of our government's plan to better connect Canadians with available jobs in their area," said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley in a statement Sunday.
The changes to the EI program were first spelled out in May and elaborate on what the government defines as searching for a suitable job.
A suitable search for a job must now include preparing resumés, registering for job banks, attending job fairs, applying for jobs and undergoing competency evaluations.
A suitable job is defined by factors including commuting time and whether the hours are compatible with the claimant's life and wages.
It will also take into account personal circumstances, such as health, physical capability to perform work, family obligations and transportation options. The new rules also break down job seekers into essentially two groups: people who've long paid into EI but rarely make a claim and those who are regular users of the system.
A suitable job search for the latter group must include jobs that are similar to what they used to do and if one of those isn't available after a certain period of time, the job seeker has to take any position he or she is qualified for and accept as much as a 30 per cent pay cut.
-- The Canadian Press