Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

February 15, 2005 13:25 ET

Government must adopt EI recommendations

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, Education Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 15, 2005) - Working people across the country have called for a long time for fairness in the Employment Insurance program. Today's recommendations for change from the House of Commons committee responsible for improving the program are what they have been waiting for, according to Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"The government must adopt the committee's recommendations because they offer solutions that will go a long way towards making this program work the way it needs to, especially for people with jobs that aren't the traditional nine-to-five, forty-hour work week," says Byers.

Byers says the recommendations mark a clear victory for the workers and unions who have raised these issues with their MPs both in Ottawa and at home. They are also a victory for the NDP and the Bloc Québécois who have worked tirelessly in Parliament to bring back fairness for the unemployed.

But, she insists, the recommendations still need to become law, which means unions, working people, and their friends in Parliament need to keep up the pressure.

"Canadians expect to see these reforms in next week's federal budget", says Byers, who wants the government to act as quickly as possible to implement the Committee's recommendations.

"These changes will make a real difference in people's lives. It's time to put the money working people have paid into the EI program back where it belongs - into the benefits they need when they find themselves unemployed or the training they need to earn a better pay cheque," she says.

For years, the Canadian Labour Congress has proposed reforms like those put before the House of Commons today, in particular:

• reducing the hours needed to qualify for EI benefits to a single universal requirement of 360.

• using a worker's best 12 weeks of work to calculate what they are entitled to receive.

• increasing the benefit rate to 60%.

• increasing the overall maximum benefit period to 50 weeks.

• creating a pilot project with the aim of establishing a training insurance under EI that would stimulate more active participation of employers in worker training and skills development.

• establishing an independent, arms-length, tripartite Commission to oversee the EI trust fund with a transparent premium setting process, along with a plan for government repayment of the EI surplus.

"The current rules prevent too many premium-paying workers from accessing full benefits. They are especially hard on women, new immigrants, young workers and older workers trying to re-enter the workforce. The government now has a chance to make a real difference in people's lives," 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: /For further information: Jeff Atkinson, 613-526-7425 or 613-863-1413/ IN: ECONOMY, EDUCATION, LABOUR, POLITICS, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Jean Wolff, Director of Communications Department, Canadian Labour Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-526-7431
    Secondary Phone: 613-878-6040