EI Failing Albertans in Time of Crisis

    New analysis of EI Reveals Serious Shortcomings

    EDMONTON, Sept. 6 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour, in
partnership with the Calgary and Edmonton Labour Councils, has released a new
analysis that shows that Canada's Employment Insurance (EI) program is failing
unemployed workers at the very time they need it the most.
    "The ranks of the unemployed in Alberta swell each month as layoffs
continue," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "But the safety net we pay into is
failing to stop their fall."
    "The EI program is not doing what it is supposed to do - offer income
protection and training support for unemployed workers. And its failure is
worst here in Alberta."
    Only 39% of unemployed in Alberta receive EI benefits. Alberta workers
are the least likely in the country to be eligible for EI when they lose their
job. This is due, in large part, to the fact that Alberta has the longest
qualifying-hours requirement in the country.
    "But even workers who are lucky to get EI benefits find it simply isn't
enough," says Tom Olenuk, President of the Edmonton and District Labour
Council. "Rates are too low and for too many, their benefits get cut off too
    "We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 50 years, and Prime
Minister Harper has done nothing to make EI more accessible to Canadians,"
says Collin Anderson of the Calgary and District Labour Council.

    Highlights of the analysis include:

    -   The number of unemployed in Alberta has doubled since October 2008,
        to almost 154,000;
    -   Only 15% of young workers are eligible of EI when they lose their
    -   Albertans only receive $1,591 a month in EI benefits on average; and
    -   Albertans have to work the longest number of hours to be eligible for
        the shortest periods of coverage in Canada.

    The analysis calls for drastic changes to the EI program to make it more
responsive to unemployed Albertans. Changes recommended include: establishing
a standard 360-hour eligibility period; elimination of the two-week waiting
period; extending the benefit period to two years; and increasing funding for
    "Laid-off workers are getting hit hard by the recession. It is the
responsibility of the government to make sure they can continue to pay the
rent and feed their families. And the failure to do so rests firmly at the
feet of the Harper government," concludes McGowan.

    Note: Gil McGowan (cell 780-218-9888) and Collin Anderson (403-819-6677)
will be available for comment on the report on Monday, September 7th at the
Calgary and District Labour Council Labour Day Barbeque (Calgary Olympic
Plaza, 228 - 8 Avenue SE, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.) Tom Olenuk (780-940-6797)
will be available for comment on September 7th at the Edmonton and District
Labour Council Barbeque (Giovanni Caboto Park, 95 Street and 109 Avenue,
Edmonton, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.).

For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President @ (780) 218-9888

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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