My Bill C-578: Completed apprenticeships are crucial for a skilled workforce

Ted Hsu
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Yesterday I introduced my new bill, Bill C-578, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (removal of waiting period for apprentices).


The intention behind the bill is simple: I want to make it easier for apprentices to finish their apprenticeships. I propose amending the Employment Insurance Act so that apprentices who are leaving their paid jobs to go to school for a short period of time do not have to wait the two week period before they can access Employment Insurance. Being ineligible for Employment Insurance for even a bit of time is a disincentive to complete the in-school training period, especially for those who already have paying jobs in the sector they want.

Apprentice training is a long process that ensures we have the skilled workforce that the economy needs. Right now, many apprentices start their training but do not technically finish because they are hired before being fully accredited. The system lacks incentives to return for the in-class portion of their training. For example, it takes over 6,000 hours, which is three years of 40-hour weeks, to complete an apprenticeship to be a baker. Much of this is crucial on-the-job training, when the baker is being paid. However, there are two 12-week, in-school periods, and 150 hours of theoretical work to complete the apprenticeship and become an advanced baker-patissier. During these in-school periods, the apprentice is not paid. During the first of these periods, he or she still has to make it through the two-week waiting period before being eligible for employment insurance.

The bill builds on the Liberal Party’s 2001 amendment that waived the subsequent waiting periods for apprentices, by also removing the first two-week waiting period for claimants enrolled in an apprenticeship program. I hope we will see more apprentices completing their programs, which will result in a more skilled and productive workforce.