Finley insults unemployed Canadians with more re-announcements

    Harper government's lack of leadership on EI will lead to a longer

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - In response to The Honourable Diane Finley's,
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, re-announcements earlier
today of EI promises that were first announced in the 2009 federal budget, the
Good Jobs for All Coalition - an alliance of more than 35 community,
environmentalist, labour and student groups representing people throughout the
Greater Toronto Area - is renewing its call for the Minister's resignation.
    "Minister Diane Finley is trying to distract from the fact that under her
watch Employment Insurance has been a failure," said Winnie Ng, Co-chair of
the Good Jobs For All Coalition. "Re-announcing promises from January doesn't
change the fact that only 46% of the unemployed are getting EI. Minister
Finley's lack of leadership means Canadians will end up suffering with this
recession even longer and Prime Minister Stephen Harper should ask for her
resignation today."
    The change related to the electronic filing of records of employment
(ROE) re-announced by Minister Finley this morning has been on the Service
Canada website for months and is not a new measure:

    The Good Jobs For All Coalition and, recently, all three federal
opposition parties have been calling on the Harper government to fix EI by:

    -   lowering the qualifying threshold to 360 hours worked for everyone
        across the country;

    -   restoring benefits to at least 60% of normal earnings using each
        worker's best 12 weeks; and

    -   eliminating the two-week waiting period.

    "In past recessions 80% of the jobless got the unemployment insurance
they paid for," said John Cartwright, President of the Toronto and York Region
Labour Council. "Making sure that most unemployed Canadians were covered
helped to shorten those economic crises. There are proven economic benefits to
making EI accessible."
    Last month hundreds of laid-off workers demonstrated outside of the
constituency office of The Honourable Peter Kent, the only federal cabinet
minister from Toronto. It was the fourth rally to fix the Employment Insurance
program held by the Good Jobs for All Coalition since March.
    At the end of March, a public opinion poll conducted by Harris-Decima
found that the majority of Canadians - throughout all regions of the country
and across income brackets - believe that the scope of employment insurance
should be expanded.


    -   The latest EI coverage data for March 2009 that was released by
        Statistics Canada in May, confirm that only 46.78% of unemployed
        people throughout Canada and 35.65% of unemployed Ontarians are
        receiving EI benefits. The coverage rate in Ontario has increased
        just 2.59% from December 2008, an increase of only 28,030 successful
        EI claims in the province despite the fact that 107,000 full-time
        jobs have been lost during the same period in Ontario alone.

    -   According to the Public Accounts of Canada 2008 report that was
        prepared by the Receiver General for Canada, "The Employment
        Insurance Act provides for a compulsory contributory employment
        insurance program applicable to all employees and employers, with few

    -   The EI fund surplus held by the Government of Canada was $57 billion
        ($56,952,606,000) as at March 31, 2008, the most recent figure

        Public Accounts of Canada for 2007-2008, Vol. I (page 4.16)

    -   In a February 2005 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee
        on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the
        Status of Persons with Disabilities, then Official Opposition HRSDC
        critic Peter Van Loan said:

        "The Conservative Party believes that the government needs to be held
        accountable for the cumulative balance in the Employment Insurance
        account which continues to grow year after year, despite repeated
        objections by the Auditor General that it violates the Employment
        Insurance Act." (page. 71).

        "We believe that the slate must not be wiped clean. It is important
        to all contributors that the government be held accountable. The
        'notional surplus' (now $46 billion) has been tracked for a reason -
        that is to recognize what contributors have paid into Employment
        Insurance. The Conservative Party believes that this surplus is the
        property of those who have made the contributions to Employment
        Insurance - the workers and employers of Canada." (page. 72)

        Restoring Financial Governance and Accessibility in the Employment
        Insurance Program

    -   The accumulated EI surplus under the Conservative government has
        increased $6.2 billion. It was $50.8 billion as at March 31, 2006.

For further information:

For further information: Ken Marciniec, Communications Coordinator, Good
Jobs For All Coalition, (416) 803-6066,;
or John Cartwright, President, Toronto and York Region Labour Council, (416)

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