Canada's Economic Action Plan helps Canadians through Work-Sharing



    BOIS-FRANC, QC, June 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Economic Action Plan is
helping workers and businesses by extending and easing access to Work-Sharing
agreements, so more Canadians can keep their jobs while companies experience a
temporary slowdown.
    "Our Government knows that, by keeping Quebeckers, and indeed all
Canadians, working, we can minimize the impact of this difficult economic
time," said the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Minister responsible for the Outaouais region. "Improvements to the
Work-Sharing program provide companies like Louisiana-Pacific Canada and their
employees with easier and extended access to Work-Sharing agreements while
these companies recover from temporary slowdowns."
    Minister Cannon made the statement on behalf of the Honourable Diane
Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, in an address to
employees at Louisiana-Pacific.
    Work-Sharing, an element of the Employment Insurance (EI) program, can be
instrumental in assisting businesses experiencing a temporary slowdown caused
by factors beyond their control. It is designed to avoid layoffs by offering
EI income support to qualifying workers willing to work a reduced work week
while their employer recovers. Under Work-Sharing, employers can retain
employees and avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs, and employees
are able to continue working and keep their skills up to date.
    Companies in key sectors of Canada's economy, such as forestry and
manufacturing, are already using the Work-Sharing program. As of June 14,
2009, Work-Sharing was benefiting over 31,000 Quebeckers and more than 135,000
Canadians. In Quebec, there were over 750 agreements, with 64 of them directly
helping the forestry sector. There are seven active Work-Sharing agreements in
the Outaouais region involving over 250 employees, including more than 70 at
Louisiana-Pacific.
    Recognizing the current level of uncertainty facing many businesses, the
Government is extending, over the next two years, Work-Sharing agreements to a
maximum of 52 weeks and increasing access to Work-Sharing by providing greater
flexibility in the qualifying criteria and streamlining processes for
employers.
    These measures are estimated to cost $200 million over two years and will
minimize the financial impact of the economic downturn by helping companies
avoid layoffs while their industry recovers.

    This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

    
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    Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary downturn in
business avoid layoffs by offering Employment Insurance (EI) Part I income
support to workers willing to work a reduced work week while the company they
work for recovers. Under Work-Sharing, employers can retain employees and
avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs. Employees are able to
continue working and keep their skills up to date.
    The objective of the temporary policy change announced in Canada's
Economic Action Plan is to increase access to Work-Sharing during this
difficult economic time. Also, extending the duration criteria of Work-Sharing
agreements to a total maximum of 52 weeks allows a longer period for companies
to recover.
    Under the Canada Employment Insurance Commission's Work-Sharing policy,
the need to reduce the normal level of business activity had to be beyond the
control of the employer. In addition, the employer had to provide a Recovery
Plan that described the activities to be undertaken to return to normal
production at the end of the Work-Sharing agreement, which was normally a
maximum of 26 weeks, but could be extended by up to an additional 12 weeks to
a maximum of 38 weeks under exceptional circumstances.
    Workers laid off at the end of their participation in Work-Sharing may
receive their full entitlement to regular EI benefits based on their rate of
pay prior to participating in the program.
    For more information on Work-Sharing, please visit the following Web
site: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml.




For further information:

For further information: (media only): Michelle Bakos, Press Secretary,
Office of Minister Finley, (819) 994-2482; Natalie Sarafian, Press Secretary,
Office of Minister Cannon, (613) 995-1851; Media Relations Office, Human
Resources and Skills Development Canada, (819) 994-5559


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