Unemployment insurance: the idea of ​​a reform based on the Canadian model worries the unions

The duration of compensation could vary from 14 to 45 weeks depending on the job market in a particular region. (Photo illustration) (Pixabay / wir_sind_klein)

Since his campaign in the presidential election last May, Emmanuel Macron has been defending a new unemployment insurance reform that would be based on the Canadian model. The latter varies the conditions of access and the duration of compensation according to the job market. If economists see it as a potential lead, the unions are against this idea.

Virtuous system or danger? The Canadian unemployment insurance model, which the French government intends to emulate, worries the unions. Emmanuel Macron pledged in the spring to reform unemployment insurance by making it

“stricter when too many jobs are unfilled, more generous when unemployment is high”

. Since then, Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt has repeatedly cited the Canadian model as an example.

Variable unemployment insurance depending on the region

This model provides that the conditions of access and the duration of benefits vary according to the regional unemployment rate. In a region where unemployment is below 6%, you must have worked 700 hours to be compensated, compared to 420 hours in a region with unemployment above 13%, according to a note from Unédic in 2021. The duration of compensation varies from 14 to 45 weeks.

In France, as a first step, the current rules which expire at the end of October will be extended via a text of law at the start of the school year. Olivier Dussopt then envisages a


with unions and employers.

“Areas can be opened, on the duration of compensation and its decreasing nature”

did he declare.

Economists cautiously supportive of the idea

But the impact of the latest controversial unemployment insurance reform, which came into force last December, has not yet been measured. In the spring of 2021, Unédic estimated that up to 1.15 million people qualifying after the reform would receive an allowance 17% lower on average than before, with a

“theoretical duration of compensation”


For Bruno Coquet, specialist in unemployment insurance at the OFCE, this reform project is a good idea but

“the devil is in the details”

according to him. The executive assumes that

“People who receive unemployment insurance could occupy the available jobs, so the rights must be lowered”

, explains the expert. But 60% of the unemployed are not compensated and do not take the available jobs. Why ?

“This point should still be clarified”

notes the expert.

Moreover, the Canadian system does not make it possible to reduce recruitment difficulties, specifies the economist, who sees it rather as a

“covering a reduction in duties”

. For his part, Stéphane Carcillo considers the model

“quite virtuous from a theoretical point of view”


“When the economy is good, the slightly stricter rules really push people towards employment”

, notes the OECD economist. However, all the experts warn against the risks of

” Gaz factory ”


The trade unions are standing up

On the side of the unions, unanimously opposed to the latest reform, this Canadian model is coldly received.

“It’s blurry and it’s dangerous”

we summarize at the CGT, where we fear to see arriving a

“instrument of pressure to accept any job”

. The Canadian model

“will mainly hit people who have difficulty finding a job”

adds a representative of the CFE-CGC.

For Michel Beaugas, from FO,

“It’s double, even triple punishment”

for the unemployed. Compensation has already dropped with the last reform and such a project would shorten it even further. For the trade unionist, the reason for the recruitment tensions,

“it’s not unemployment insurance, it’s the attractiveness of jobs, hours, working conditions and salary”



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