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E.I. Premiums To Remain Steady, Ottawa Hints

Ottawa is hinting it may not raise employment insurance premiums in January – or at least not by much.

Business and labour groups have been pressuring the Harper government to cancel a scheduled premium increase while unemployment remains high. Federal ministers have insisted for months that a two-year
suspension in rate increases needs to end.

But Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Human Resources Minister Diane Finley softened their positions Wednesday.

Flaherty said overriding the independent panel that recommended the increase remains an option.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates the projected hikes could cost as much as 170,000 jobs by making hiring more expensive.