Dalhousie Law Journal


Unemployment insurance, policies, principles, disqualification, BNA Act, Parliament, exclusive jurisdiction, eligibility conditions


Ever since the 1940 amendment to the BNA Act' which gave exclusive jurisdiction in relation to unemployment insurance to Parliament, the thrust of Canada's unemployment compensation system and the basis for its eligibility conditions has been that the claimant must be unemployed through no fault of his own.2 The primary purpose of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 19713 was put succinctly in a recent decision of the Umpire: ... it is not the function of the Unemployment Insurance Act to provide public welfare, but rather to provide aid of a temporary nature to a claimant who is actively seeking work and capable of performing work of a nature which may be available and who through no fault of his own is unable to find it. CUB 34474 Because of this limited legislative objective, unemployment insurance cannot be seen as a panacea for all the ills of economic disadvantage, but is only part of a broader spectrum of social compensation, social assistance, old age pensions and disability relief programs. It is not surprising, therefore, that all the unemployment insurance acts since 1940 have had provisions restricting eligibility in such cases as: (1) voluntary separation 5, (2) loss of employment through misconduct6 ; (3) unavailability for work7 ; and (4) refusal of suitable employment8 .