Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

October 27, 2009 14:24 ET

Keep your promises, unemployed tell feds and province

EI training programs failing Ontario's Second Career training program in doubt

Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, MEDIA ADVISORY--(Marketwire - Oct. 27, 2009) - Unions and workers are calling on both the provincial and federal governments to honour their promises to laid-off workers who have applied for training and upgrading under Ontario's Second Career Program.

At a news conference, unemployed workers will talk about the real impact of government decisions that restrict access to Second Career and other skills development programs.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1:00 pm

Toronto Steelworkers Job Action Centre
25 Cecil Street, Room 303, Toronto
[one-block south and one block east of College and Spadina]

Also at the news conference:

* Terry Downey, Executive Vice President, Ontario Federation of Labour
* Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
* Ken Lewenza, President, Canadian Auto Workers
* Gord Falconer, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers


Unemployed workers may be denied access to a provincial program that promised them a second chance with training for a new career. Under the program, workers are eligible for up to $28,000 for a maximum three years of upgrading and training. A surge in take-up rates has put current and future access to the provincial program in jeopardy. Meanwhile the federal government has been unrealistic with its rigid eligibility criteria for federal EI income benefits while workers are in training, making the benefits inaccessible to most.

Thousands of unemployed workers have re-organized their lives to secure upgrading and training. After putting their lives on hold, they may find they are denied access altogether.

The Ontario government launched the Second Career Program in June 2008 after five years, during which 400,000 manufacturing and forestry jobs were lost in Canada. In the five months after the onset of the global recession in October 2008, another 400,000 jobs vanished.

In the meantime, federal pilot programs that extend retraining benefits to long-tenured workers are available only to those who filed new employment insurance claims between January 25, 2009 and May 30, 2010, and who had limited layoffs in the past. This closes the door to thousands of workers who need retraining, but who were laid off before January 25, 2009 or were subject to layoffs in recent years. The federal government claimed the project would assist 40,000 workers, but only a fraction of that number have been able to access it.

Ontario workers want the provincial and federal governments to keep their promises.

1. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan must immediately release sufficient funds to ensure that all workers with current applications for Second Career and Skills Development programs are processed promptly and in accordance with the qualifying rules at the time of application. It's a matter of fairness and equity. The funding must ensure sufficient staffing to expedite application processing and trainee living allowances that are not less than EI benefit rates.

2. Prime Minister Stephen Harper must immediately adjust the eligibility restrictions on EI training benefits so that more unemployed workers have a reasonable income while in approved training and upgrading. The federal government must also increase Labour Market Agreement transfers to provinces for worker training and upgrading, especially during this period of jobless recovery.

/For further information: Mike Belmore
OFL Communications Department
905.308.4300 (cellular)/ IN: LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Sheila Keenan, OFL Communications Director
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138