Journal of Law and Social Policy


Georges Campeau


Unemployment insurance -- Canada

Document Type


English Abstract

Since 1990, the federal government has used the unemployment insurance system for purposes other than providing benefits to the unemployed. This misappropriation bas enabled the federal government to finance an important part of its activities regarding labour force matters. In addition, the surplus in the Unemployment Insurance account generated by massive cutbacks made in recent years, is being used to reduce the federal deficit. This misappropriation bas been done at the expense of the interests of workers and the unemployed, and in contravention of the federal government's constitutional responsibilities to those same workers and the unemployed. The justification relied on for the federal Parliament's intervention in this field is not supported by the federal spending power, but rather the jurisdiction over unemployment insurance which it received as a result of a constitutional amendment in 1940. The jurisdiction given to the federal Parliament at that time is limited to unemployment insurance, that is the power to levy premiums to indemnify those insured under the program in case they become unemployed. It cannot be used for other purposes without the federal government exceeding its constitutional powers.