Lucas meets with Jack Layton, Scott Simms on E.I. Bill

    OTTAWA, June 5 /CNW/ - CUPE NL President Wayne Lucas met in Ottawa today
with federal NDP Leader Jack Layton as well as Scott Simms, the Liberal MP for
Bona Vista-Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor to discuss the EI Bill currently before
    Lucas is looking for support for Bill C-269, which improves access to EI
benefits by lowering the entrance requirement by 70 hours in all regions. The
qualifying period would be between 350 and 630 hours, significantly down from
the current range of 420 to 700 hours.
    Says Lucas, "Elected members of the House of Commons have an opportunity
to improve access to benefits for unemployed workers by passing Bill C-269
which proposes long overdue changes to the EI program. My meetings today with
Mr. Simms and Mr. Layton were extremely productive. It is CUPE's hope that all
of the opposition parties will vote in favour of this bill."

    Bill C-269 improves benefits by:

    - Lowering the entrance requirement by 70 hours in all regions;
    - Eliminating the 2-week waiting period;
    - Raising the benefit level from 55% to 60% of weekly earnings;
    - Basing benefits on the best 12 weeks of earnings;
    - Extending the maximum duration to between 18 and 50 weeks depending on
      local unemployment rates.

    "While these reforms fall short of labour's goals, they do represent a
significant improvement, and we urge support for them," says Lucas.
    In order for the bill to be voted on at third reading, it will require
the Harper government giving it 'Royal Recommendation'.
    Says Lucas, "An overhaul of the EI program is long overdue. Strong
leadership and political will are needed to make that change happen.

For further information:

For further information: Wayne Lucas, President, CUPE NL, (709) 727-2509
(Cell); John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep., (902) 455-4180 (o)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Atlantic Region

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