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Worried about EI rates? Here's what you need to know.

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  • Worried about EI rates? Here's what you need to know.

As a business owner, unlike other payroll taxes that are split 50:50 between the employer and employees, you actually pay 1.4 times the EI rate that an employee does, meaning that any hike hits you even harder! Payroll taxes are the most difficult for your business to cope with since you have to pay them regardless of whether you make any money or not.

What’s next for EI rates?

There is some good news for small businesses as the federal government announced that the EI rate will go down by five cents for employers in 2019 – from $2.32 to $2.27. In Quebec, the EI rate will go down by 7 cents for employers in 2019.

Starting in June 2019, the government will be allowing an additional five weeks of benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This new measure will add costs to the EI system, but due to low unemployment across the country, rates are still going down. 

While EI is slated to go down in 2019, CPP/QPP premiums will increase for the next six years and many provinces are increasing minimum wage – all of which impact the cost of labour for your business.  

What does this mean for you?

In past, the Small Business Job Credit (SBJC) was available for the 2015 and 2016 tax years, which closed the gap so you paid 1.2 times the employee rate. This ended after 2016, so despite the rate being lowered for employees and employers in 2017, small businesses actually saw an increase of $0.04 without the SBJC.

After another increase in rates in 2018, your business will finally see some relief in 2019:


EI RATES (per $100 insurable earnings)

Employee rate$1.30$1.66$1.25$1.62
Employer rate$1.82$2.32$1.75$2.27


What is CFIB doing about this?

We’ve long advocated for more fairness in the EI system for employers. Over the years, we’ve been able to score some big wins for small business:

  • We advocated for stability in EI rates for years, and finally, in 2012, the federal government announced the seven-year break-even rate that ensures EI funds are used exclusively for the EI program during that time frame.
  • In 2014, the government implemented a CFIB idea by creating the Small Business Job Credit (SBJC), which provided a tax credit to small business owners to offset EI premiums; we were there when the government announced this!

We’re keeping up the fight by recommending some of the following things to government:

  • Ensure more transparency around how EI funds are being used to ensure that the hard-earned money that you and your employees pay into EI is only used for EI-related expenses.
  • Introduce a training tax credit, such as a refundable income tax credit or an EI credit, which recognizes the investments you make in hiring and training your employees. 
  • Create an EI credit to encourage businesses to hire more youth between the ages of 18 and 24 that would offer employers a 12-month break on EI premiums – a Liberal Party pledge during the last federal election.
  • Implement a 50/50 split in EI premiums so that employers don’t contribute more than their fair share.
  • Consider putting in place a permanently lower EI rate for small businesses.
  • Implement a system to allow business owners to claim over-contributions. While employees get a refund on their tax return if they go over their maximum annual contribution, employers can’t.

Want more information?

Find out more about EI, including what to do if you’re self-employed or employ family members.