Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

September 04, 2009 09:52 ET

Georgetti Says Canada's Unemployed Running out of Benefits

CLC President sees bleak Labour Day for jobless

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 4, 2009) - Unemployed Canadians will have little to celebrate this Labour Day unless federal politicians act now to improve Employment Insurance to meet the basic needs of all workers, says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"The clock is ticking for those who lost work since last fall," says Georgetti. "Those workers are running out of Employment Insurance benefits and they're going to end up on provincial or municipal welfare roles and at food banks."

Georgetti was responding to the release by Statistics Canada of labour force figures for August 2009, when a net of 3,500 workers lost their full time jobs. 483,000 full time jobs have been lost since the fall of 2008 and there are 1.6 million unemployed men and women in Canada. "We are now almost a year into the economic crisis but jobs are not being created," Georgetti says. "The unemployed are running out of time and out of money."

Georgetti says that a committee set up by the Prime Minister and Opposition leader last June to study changes to EI has gone nowhere. "They've spent the summer playing political games at the expense of the unemployed. We know what has to be done and they haven't done it. The time to fix EI is now."

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

The post-September 2008 job crisis continues both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Quantitatively, in August 2009, another 3,500 Canadians working full-time were laid off and full-time job losses since October 2008 now total 483,000.

Qualitatively, the number of Canadians working part-time is up by 68,000 since last October. The proportion of Canadians working part-time now equals the record level that occurred in June 1993, when 19.6% of employees were working part-time.

Self-employment, an alternative often used by unemployed workers to stay connected to the labour market, has risen by 92,800 in the last 12 months.

Canada's unemployment rate continues to increase - from 6.2% to 8.7% between August 2008 and 2009, the highest level in more than 11 years. The number of unemployed Canadians in August increased by 21,900, with a total increase of 431,500, or 37.5%, since last October. The total number of unemployed Canadians in August was 1,604,900.

There is an obvious movement from traditionally well-paid jobs in manufacturing to low-wage, part-time jobs in industries such as retail. In August 2009, 17,300 manufacturing jobs were eliminated, while 21,300 were created in trade.

Finally, the unemployment rate for students and for workers aged 15 to 24 is rising rapidly. The student unemployment rate increased by 5% between summer of 2008 and summer 2009. It is now at 16.4%. Student unemployment in August was the highest since comparable data became available in the mid 1970's.

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

  • Sylvain Schetagne, Senior Economist
    Dennis Gruending, Communications
    613-526-7431 or 613-878-6040 (cell.)