New Spending, EI and Training Improvements a Must for Budget, CAW President Says

    TORONTO, Jan. 26 /CNW/ - In the midst of a major economic crisis, the
federal government must inject billions of new public investment to stimulate
Canada's struggling economy and make long-overdue improvements to EI as well
as training supports to protect Canadians from continuing economic decline,"
said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
    "The crumbling of our economic fundamentals has been visible for years,
especially as good-paying, family-supporting jobs have disappeared across the
country," Lewenza said in a pre-budget release Monday. "The government must
prove to Canadians it is willing to support workers at this time of crisis
when it lays out its budget proposals tomorrow."
    In addition to much needed funding for infrastructure improvements and
new projects, Lewenza also stressed the need for the federal government to
support Canadian jobs through a domestic purchasing policy, which would set a
minimum level of Canadian content for government purchases.
    The CAW is calling on the federal government to inject new and sustained
stimulus equal to at least 2% of GDP, (or a minimum $30 billion per year over
3-5 years), which is in line with the International Monetary Fund's stimulus
    "Any federal stimulus must be strategic and targeted at new spending and
income security measures to improve EI and training supports for workers,"
said Lewenza. "This is absolutely not the time for misdirected tax cut
policies that have already been proven ineffective."
    Lewenza said that reducing EI qualifying hours to a uniform 360 hours
across the country, extending benefits to 50 weeks, eliminating the two-week
waiting period and setting benefit rates to provide at least 60 per cent of
previous earnings, all will go a long way toward stabilizing consumer demand
in the country.
    Enhanced income support for skills training and education, especially for
older workers, will ensure that Canadians maintain a decent standard of living
while adjusting to changes in the labour market, Lewenza said.
    Lewenza further credited the opposition party coalition that formed in
the days following the release of the November fiscal update for dramatically
shifting the outlook of the federal government. "The progressive force of the
coalition required this government to develop a strategy to deal with the
current economic downturn and assist those most adversely affected - the poor
and the unemployed," Lewenza said.

For further information:

For further information: Angelo DiCaro, CAW Communications, (416)
606-6311; or, John McClyment, CAW Communications, (416) 315-3202

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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