OTTAWA, Sept. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Bank profits are soaring again, executive bonuses are again sky high, but all the Harper government has for workers who are hanging on by their fingernails are a few reluctant dollars from the EI fund, an insurance fund that is in surplus.
The CEP's Dave Coles says, "We are grateful to the NDP for squeezing a few dollars out of the Harper government. With all of the pulp and paper mill bankruptcies and closures, thousands of our members, who have lost their jobs, are facing the loss of their severance pay and pensions. Jack Layton has no choice but to support these measures. Layton is the only one who takes the distress of unemployed Canadians to heart."
The Conservatives are following the ruthless path hacked out by the Liberals, which narrowed access to EI dramatically. Michael Ignatieff was unable to get anything concrete in return for his support of Harper's Reform Party style tactics. At least Layton was able to wrest some benefit for Canadians and their families in these desperate times.
Bill C-50 means up to 190,000 more people are eligible for EI, for up to 20 more weeks. Some of those people are our members who have paid into EI in good faith for years, even decades.
"EI is not charity. It is not a "big fat check." Employment insurance is supposed to be an economic stabilizer, a tool that enables consumer spending and acts as a cushion for the unemployed, preventing them from slipping into poverty. It is something Canadians paid for, and which they should be able to turn to to bridge the current crisis which Stephen Harper and his ministers keep telling us is over. Just ask an unemployed forestry worker if the crisis is over," says Coles.
Stephen Harper seems to have no idea that most Canadians are two pay checks away from serious trouble. 400,000 unemployed Canadians have no access to EI benefits. People who are eligible wait for months before they receive their first check, the maximum being a sparse 400 dollars a week.
Harper's stony-faced refusal to do anything about the shambles in the forestry sector has made ghost towns of some of Canada's 300 forestry dependent towns.
SOURCE Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
For further information: For further information: Dave Coles, (613) 299-5628 (cell)