TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Coalitions advocating for fair employment
insurance policies have issued a national joint statement opposing
dangerous changes to Canada's Employment Insurance system made by the
Harper government. The launch marks the escalating resistance that
began with rallies in the Atlantic provinces and a demonstration of
thousands on the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal.
Among other changes, new EI job search rules require that claimants
classified as 'occasional' or 'frequent', after just six weeks of
searching for a job, accept work with up to a 20 to 30 per cent pay cut
and take positions outside their usual occupation.
"The impacts of these changes are startling, as three quarters of all
claimants - totaling over a million workers - fall into these new
'occasional' or 'frequent' categories," said Marie-Helene Arruda from
the Quebec Coalition Against the EI Changes. "While we watch the senate
spending scandal unfold in Ottawa, it is insulting for this government
to push through cuts affecting the most vulnerable workers in the
Workers in part time, casual and temporary jobs with erratic schedules
and educational support workers, hotel workers, factory workers and
others who are laid off by their employers during slow periods will all
Forcing people to take these kinds of jobs or risk getting cut off of EI
is not only bad labour market policy, but poor economic policy as well.
It is likely to throw more families in to poverty and wastes workers'
skills and training, said Jean-Claude Basque from the New Brunswick
Coalition Against the EI Changes.
"More and more people are realizing what these changes will mean to this
critical social safety net. Instead of modernizing our EI program to
adapt to the job market of the 21st century, the Harper government is
trying to dismantle it and feed a downward spiral of cheap labour,"
Canadian workers and employers currently fund the Employment Insurance
program in its entirety. At its core, EI recognizes unemployment as a
societal and economic problem - not an individual one. Rather than gut
the system, Coalition groups are calling for improvements that would
adapt the program to Canada's changing workforce and economy.
"Less than half of unemployed Canadians are currently collecting EI,"
said Laurell Ritchie from the Good Jobs For All Coalition. "EI is vital
to this country's economic and social health, and it requires a major
overhaul in order to adapt to today's job market. At the very least,
we need to: increase access by reducing the qualifying hours in all
regions; increase benefits and the duration of coverage; and provide
fair EI entitlements to temporary foreign workers."
The statement has been endorsed by 80 community, student and labour
groups to date.
Press conferences were held this morning in Charlottetown, Moncton,
Montreal and Toronto. Regional representatives are available across the
country to speak to media.
To read the complete statement, visit: www.goodjobsforall.ca (English) or www.nonausaccage.com (French).
SOURCE: Good Jobs For All Coalition
For further information:
Newfoundland & Labrador: Wayne Lucas (cell) 709-727-2509 or Earle McCurdy (cell) 709-743-5444
PEI: Lori MacKay (cell) 902-626-1112
Nova Scotia: Rick Clarke (cell) 902-454-6735
New Brunswick: Jean-Claude Basque (cell) 506-875-4232
Quebec: Jacques Désy (cell) 514 231-1273
Ontario: Laurell Ritchie (cell) 416-917-0047 or Winnie Ng (cell) 647-291-3511
Manitoba: Neil Cohen (cell) 204 795-9882
Saskatchewan: Tom Graham (cell) 306-229-8171
Alberta: Marle Roberts (cell) 780-918-3061