Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

October 20, 2005 11:02 ET

Employment Benefits for Families Upheld

Supreme Court ruling clears the way for reforms to federal EI program Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 20, 2005) - The Canadian Labour Congress says today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal government's right to offer maternity and parental benefits through the Employment Insurance program is welcome news for Canadian workers. It is especially good news for working women and young families.

Today's ruling also means the federal government is responsible for making the EI program work better than it does today, something the labour movement has been urging it to do for some time.

"Employment Insurance is one of the single most important programs the federal government delivers. For generations it has assured an income to working families across the country when circumstances take them out of the workforce - from job loss, to illness, to family-related leaves. It's an important piece of the Canadian puzzle," says Barbara Byers, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Byers says today's ruling also clears the way for the federal government to take full responsibility for making necessary changes to the EI program. Right now there are great gaps between what workers pay and what they get from the program.

Only a third - just over 30% - of the unemployed qualify for unemployment benefits because the rules haven't kept up with the times and how Canadians work. Byers says that by reducing the eligibility requirement across the country to 360 hours of work, the federal government could make the program a real insurance for today's workers.

She also says the EI program can be reformed towards addressing the shortage of skilled workers and the shortage of skills training opportunities for workers.

"The EI program should be expanded to cover workers in training. This includes part-time workers who are upgrading, or workers at risk of layoff should be able to access Employment Insurance during training hours. It's a real opportunity to build a stronger program, one that supports employability and contributes to a stronger economy - like it is supposed to," says Byers.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils. Web site:

Jeff Atkinson, 613-526-7425 and 613-863-1413

Contact Information

  • Jeff Atkinson, Canadian Labour Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-526-7425
    Secondary Phone: 613-863-1413