Canadians looking for work while claiming Employment Insurance will see several changes take effect Sunday as reforms to the EI program announced in last year’s budget are implemented.

Among the changes is a new job alert system that will send users two notifications daily about local job postings.

Subscribers will also have access to labour market information and resources to help EI claimants in their job search.

"The new job alerts system is an important part of our government's plan to better connect Canadians with available jobs in their area," said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley in a news release issued Sunday.

In May, Finley announced changes to the definition of “suitable employment” and “reasonable job search” which are meant to encourage unemployed workers to take jobs that are close to home, even if the pay is less than their previous job.

Upon announcing the changes, Finley said EI eligibility will be largely based on personal circumstances.

A reasonable job search now includes thorough research of job opportunities, preparing a resume, registering for job banks, attending job fairs, applying for jobs and undergoing competency evaluations.

Eligibility will also be determined by whether the individual is a frequent claimant or an occasional one.

Suitable employment is now determined by:

  • Personal circumstances, including health, transportation options and family obligations
  • Whether commuting time is within one hour of the individual’s home
  • Qualifications and past wages
  • Whether a position is available because of a labour dispute

Unions and opposition MPs from eastern Canada have criticized the reforms, saying they hurt seasonal workers and will force EI claimants to take low-paying jobs.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Moncton, N.B. to oppose the changes on Friday. Protesters, many who worked in seasonal positions, said the changes will force them to look outside of their communities for employment.

With files from The Canadian Press