Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

October 09, 2009 10:06 ET

Georgetti Calls for Immediate EI Reform

CLC President says the unemployed running out of benefits

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 9, 2009) - The Canadian Labour Congress has renewed its call for the federal government to make immediate and comprehensive reforms to Employment Insurance to meet the basic needs of unemployed workers.

"People are running out of EI benefits," says Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. "Those unemployed workers are going to end up on social assistance and at food banks."

Georgetti was commenting on the release by Statistics Canada of labour force figures for September 2009. 395,000 full-time jobs have been lost since the fall of 2008 and there are 1.55 million unemployed men and women in Canada.

Georgetti says fewer than half of unemployed workers are qualifying for Employment Insurance and that means that people laid off last fall and winter are exhausting their benefits. He says that Parliament should pass Bill C-50, which will help long-tenured workers who have been laid off, but he says the EI system needs more comprehensive reform to help people who have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own.

The CLC is calling on Ottawa to:

- change accessibility rules to provide regular EI benefits on the basis of 360 hours of work, no matter where people live and work in Canada.

- make all workers eligible for up to 50 weeks of EI benefits.

- raise benefits immediately to 60% of earnings calculated on a worker's best 12 weeks of earnings.

Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Sylvain Schetagne

At the centre of every hurricane, there is a small area, often referred to as the eye of the storm, where the weather seems to be calm, the sky appears to be clear, and the winds are just light breezes. In September 2009, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.3%, and is now at 8.4%. The storm might appear to be clearing up, however, the decrease in the unemployment rate hides the fact that 24,500 Canadians left the labour market last month.

Most jobs created in September were in self-employment (+11,300) and in the public sector (+36,400), while the 17,100 jobs were eliminated in the private sector. The service-producing sector eliminated 15,600 jobs, mainly in transportation, warehousing, accommodation and food services.

Employment in September continued to drop for men aged 25-54 (-32,600 full-time jobs). Manufacturing and construction jobs increased in September, but the level of employment in these industries is still far below levels of a year ago. Manufacturing jobs are down 10.6% since October, 2008 and jobs in construction are down by 6.7%. The total number of unemployed has decreased somewhat to 1,549,700, but that number is still 35% higher than in October 2008.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site:

Contact Information

  • Canadian Labour Congress
    Sylvain Schetagne
    Senior Economist
    Canadian Labour Congress
    Dennis Gruending