Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

August 07, 2009 09:51 ET

Georgetti Says Recession Far From Over for Canada's Unemployed: CLC President Asks Premiers to Champion EI Reform

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 7, 2009) - The recession is far from over for unemployed Canadians, says Ken Georgetti, and he is urging premiers and territorial leaders to pressure the federal government to reform Employment Insurance.

The Canadian Labour Congress president was responding to the release by Statistics Canada of labour force figures for July 2009, when there were 79,000 fewer workers in paid jobs compared to June. Self employment rose by 35,000 and 53,000 workers gave up the search for jobs and dropped out of the labour force. There are now 1.6 million unemployed Canadians, and the rate of unemployment is 8.6 %. Only 50.5 % of the unemployed are actually collecting benefits due to roadblocks built into the EI system.

"Some people say that the recession is over but try telling that to the unemployed and their families", Georgetti says. "Unemployment is going to get worse in the months ahead and the Harper government is leaving people to fend for themselves." Georgetti says that a number of political leaders have called for improvements to EI but the federal government has stubbornly resisted changes. "I am asking the premiers and territorial leaders to put pressure on the Mr. Harper and his cabinet ministers to do the right thing and fix EI."

Many workers who lost their jobs last fall have already used up their EI benefits, Georgetti says. "These people are ending up on social assistance and at food banks. This puts more pressure on the budgets of our provinces, territories and municipalities. The time for Ottawa to fix EI is now, not next fall or winter."

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 Chief Economist, Andrew Jackson

Today's job numbers are a clear sign that, far from entering a recovery, the Canadian economy is still in free-fall.

While the national unemployment rate remained unchanged in July at 8.6%, this was only because 53,000 workers gave up the fruitless search for jobs and dropped out of the labour force. The participation rate fell sharply, from 67.5% to 67.2%, the largest monthly decline we have seen since the recession began.

We lost another 45,000 jobs in July, but the picture is much worse on closer examination. There were 79,000 fewer workers in paid jobs compared to June, while self-employment rose by 35,000. This was on top of another big jump in self-employment of 37,000 last month.

Put it all together and the picture is of large losses in paid jobs, with the impact on the headline unemployment rate cushioned by workers giving up the search for jobs or turning to self-employment.

Today's numbers show that the impact of the recession has spread decisively to women. There were 22,000 fewer adult women (aged 25 and over) working in July compared to June, and another 31,000 adult women dropped out of the labour force.

The figures suggest little impact to date from the federal government's stimulus package. We lost 18,000 construction jobs in July, bringing the total loss in this sector since October to 120,000 or 9.6%. The unemployment rate for students in July was 20.9%.

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

  • CLC Communications
    Dennis Gruending
    Cell: 613-878-6040