Petition calls on feds to end vindictive codes denying EI benefits to those terminated over vaccine mandates

Constitutional experts call the move 'not in line with case law, arbitrary and used to advance a political agenda.'

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Union representative Dan Janssen has launched a petition urging the Justin Trudeau Liberals to end the use of vindictive employment insurance codes put in place to prevent equitable access to the social safety net that all gainfully employed Canadians are forced to pay into.

Employment Insurance (EI) is federal program that provides temporary income support to unemployed workers. All gainfully employed Canadians are obliged to pay into this program by way of tax deductions.

As of October 15, 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) gave employers instructions on how to issue employment codes that denied individuals their ability to access the social safety net that they pay into, targeting those found to not be “compliant” with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The new guidance states that if an employee doesn’t report to work because they refuse to comply with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, employers are to use code E (quit) or code N (leave of absence); when an employee is suspended or terminated for not complying with a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, use code M (dismissal).

On June 6, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms put out a press release condemning the federal government's action, noting that it is “not in line with the caselaw in this area. Rather, it is arbitrary and being used to advance a political agenda.”

Janssen has worked at Toronto Pearson International Airport for the better part of 20 years and currently represents one of the labour unions at the airport. Handling contract negotiations, labour disputes, grievances, arbitrations, etcetera, Janssen has also been heavily involved politically. He ran in the 2019 federal election as an NDP candidate, as well as in 2018 for the provincial NDP party.

“One of the fundamental parts to me of being Canadian is that we pay into our system,” Janssen says, “employment insurance is one of those systems that you pay into all of your working career — you have no choice but to pay into it – and it should have been there when needed most.”

Having the petition sponsored by Conservative House leader and MP John Brassard, I asked Janssen if he tried to have the petition sponsored by an NDP MP, as they are traditionally known as the ‘workers' party.’

Janssen replied that he did not.

“They have been supporting the Liberals all throughout this pandemic, especially seeing what happened with the Emergencies Act and going back to when the vaccine mandates were being put in place, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was calling to employers saying unvaccinated workers who do not comply should be disciplined including termination.”

Noting that he believes wholeheartedly in what the NDP represents, Janssen says it’s “unfortunate” that the party has “gone on to be the stepping stool for the Liberal party” and “hopes that they can get back to their roots at some point.”

“The government can redeem themselves by turning this around,” further notes Janssen. His petition advocates for the removal of the codes, to provide the data on how many workers were denied based on Record of Employment (ROE) issuance and provide compensation to those who were without financial support during tumultuous times of unemployment.

At the end of the day, Janssen reinforces that “workers deserved to be paid their employment insurance.”

We have filed an access to information request to determine the number of workers denied employment insurance. You can help to support this ongoing investigation at

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