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Joint Statement by Community and Labour Groups

Concerning Federal Changes to Employment Insurance

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To the Prime Minister of Canada:

Our unemployment insurance program has served this country well since 1940. When the Great Depression gave rise to mass unemployment and large public demonstrations, workers demanded a program of unemployment insurance to address the obvious, painful need. They were supported by mayors, business leaders and others who understood how important an income replacement program was for families trying to weather bad times and for communities trying to maintain economic stability. The program has continued this vital role in the decades since and especially during periods of economic crisis.

It is deeply disturbing to watch your government now make such destructive, harmful changes to our EI program. There is no excuse for such unilateral action. The people directly concerned have not given their agreement or even been consulted. Since 1990 workers and employers have entirely funded the UI/EI program without any government contributions. What’s more, between 1994 and 2009, the funds of the EI program were used for other purposes than the protection of workers; those funds should be restored.

We are united in calling on your government to Scrap the EI Changes!

We believe that:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes our fundamental human right to economic supports in case of unemployment as well as the freedom to choose our own employment;
  • Unemployment is an economic and social phenomenon. It requires a collective response;
  • Unemployed workers have a right to a fair and worker-friendly appeal system when contesting EI Commission decisions;
  • EI requires improvements that improve access, duration and benefit levels. Less than 40% of unemployed people are now collecting EI benefits.

We say NO to:

  • the impoverishment of workers and degradation of working conditions;
  • changes which are not necessary or desirable, and for which no impact studies have been provided;
  • new rules that reinforce the myth that Canadians do not wish to work and abuse the system when they are unemployed. In fact, fewer than a third collect the total benefits to which they are entitled;
  • the attack on communities throughout Canada especially rural communities and those which rely on seasonal industries;
  • the erosion of coverage for people without full-time, full-year employment. Temporary, part-time and migrant jobs mean insecure, erratic employment, especially for aboriginal workers and workers of colour, women and youth.
  • an obligation to accept work regardless of training, experience or willingness;
  • the focus on individual rather than collective responses to unemployment;
  • intimidation, surveillance and intrusion into our private lives;
  • a new Social Security Tribunal which will gravely restrain access to justice;
  • the attempt to dismantle our EI social insurance program by stealth.

We seek Employment Insurance reforms that benefit workers and their
communities. We therefore urge the PARLIAMENT of Canada to:

  1. Rescind all 2012 and 2013 Budget measures related to EI.
  2. Improve EI benefits:
    • Improve access by reducing qualifying hours in all regions to the lesser of 360 hours or 13 weeks.
    • Increase duration to at least 50 weeks in all regions. Provide a Special Extension when unemployment exceeds 6.5%, paid from federal general revenues.
    • Increase benefits to at least 60% of earnings using workers’ 12 best weeks. Raise the maximum benefit. And eliminate severance pay allocations and the 2 week waiting period.
    • Provide EI income benefits so long as workers are in approved training.
    • Expand supports for work-sharing arrangements under EI to reduce layoffs, and build links between work-sharing and training.
  3. Provide Temporary Foreign Workers with meaningful EI entitlements.

Download PDF in English | French | Endorsements

Scrap the changes – Fix EI

At the Toronto Labour Day parade, Good Jobs for All members distributed 2000 flyers and got over 200 signatures on a petition to stop the Harper government’s changes to the Employment Insurance program.   If you didn’t sign the petition or get a flyer, and need information, please ‘read more’.

Many more jobs in Canada are temporary, part-time and many Canadian cities and communities have still not recovered from the recession.  As many  of the marchers in the Toronto Labour Day Parade said “We all pay into Employment Insurance, and we need to be able to depend upon it when we need it!“

Good Jobs for All has been fighting to change Employment Insurance since 2009]  Because of the work of committed activists, EI was extended in 2009, but then the Harper Government decided to try to gut the program.   Right now premiers across Canada are speaking out against the EI Changes and the Canada Jobs Grant. Work in Canada is changing, and too many people are not able to collect Employment Insurance when they need it.   Join us and let’s fight to fix Employment Insurance

Contact info@goodjobsforall.ca if you know someone who has been cut from the EI program or needs help collecting EI and if you want to join this campaign.

FixEI

Ask Ontario By-election Candidates a Question

Elected Provincial Leaders Need to Get on Board!

Community and labour groups warned that Ottawa’s new E.I. CHANGES are dangerous and should be SCRAPPED. The Premiers of Quebec and the 4 Atlantic provinces have called for a moratorium on the changes and launched a review of the impact on their province. Where’s Ontario?

Which provinces have the most people in new EI categories that will be hard hit by rules requiring them to look for jobs paying 20-30% less, outside their occupation and commuting an hour – after just 6 weeks of layoff? Not the Atlantic provinces, but Quebec and Ontario.

According to the federal EI Monitoring Report, 70% of Ontario EI claimants fall into the new categories, over ¼ million workers. No one’s immune to this cheap labour agenda, whether they work in manufacturing, construction or public and private services like educational staff and hotels – jobs you’ll find in every town.

Did you know there are other EI changes like a total re-write of the appeal system, making it more difficult to get justice if you’re unfairly denied EI? To learn more about these changes, go to www.goodjobsforall.ca where you can also print a petition calling on Parliament for better EI access and real improvements.

Ask Ontario By-election Candidates a Question

Do you agree that Premier Wynne should join the premiers of the 4 Atlantic provinces and Quebec in calling for a moratorium on the new EI changes? And launch public hearings to investigate their impact on Ontario?

Download PDF

Elected Provincial Leaders Need to Get on Board!

Community and labour groups warned that Ottawa’s new E.I. CHANGES are dangerous and should be SCRAPPED. The Premiers of Quebec and the 4 Atlantic provinces have called for a moratorium on the changes and launched a review of the impact on their province. Where’s Ontario?

  • Which provinces have the most people in new EI categories that will be hard hit by rules requiring them to look for jobs paying 20-30% less, outside their occupation and commuting an hour – after just 6 weeks of layoff? Not the Atlantic provinces, but Quebec and Ontario.According to the federal EI Monitoring Report, 70% of Ontario EI claimants fall into the new categories, over ¼ million workers. No one’s immune to this cheap labour agenda, whether they work in manufacturing, construction or public and private services like educational staff and hotels – jobs you’ll find in every town.
  • Did you know there are other EI changes like a total re-write of the appeal system, making it more difficult to get justice if you’re unfairly denied EI? To learn more about these changes, go to www.goodjobsforall.ca where you can also print a petition calling on Parliament for better EI access and real improvements.

Urge Premier Wynne to discuss this issue with the Council of the Federation. Ask her to support the call for a moratorium and to set up provincial public hearings. Ask your city council to do the same and write to the Premier and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It’s up to us!

Download PDF

Scrap the Recent EI Changes

Make Real EI Improvements!

TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS:

WHEREAS the government is driving a cheap labour agenda with new lower wage standards for Canada’s unemployed, undermining the wages of all workers and failing to put quality jobs at the heart of the country’s labour market strategies;

WHEREAS recent EI changes require 75% of claimants to accept jobs outside their usual occupation and paying 20 to 30% less after only 6 weeks of job search; give the Minister unilateral powers to dictate EI regulations; remove basic principles of fairness in the appeal process and other changes detrimental to workers and their communities;

WHEREAS EI has been weakened to the point where fewer than half of the unemployed receive EI at any given time because fewer workers qualify and benefit weeks are reduced. Yet a healthy EI system is the most powerful of all economic stabilizers, reducing the shock of job and GDP losses during downturns.

WHEREAS Ottawa stopped contributing to EI in 1990 but siphoned off $55 Billion of a $57 Billion surplus in premiums accumulated by 2009 instead of improving benefits;

WE URGENTLY PETITION PARLIAMENT to introduce these changes to Employment Insurance. We fund EI and we expect it to be there when we need it.

1.  Rescind all 2012 and 2013 Budget measures related to Employment Insurance.

2.  Provide Temporary Foreign Workers with meaningful EI entitlements.

3.  Improve EI benefits:

  • Increase access by reducing qualifying hours to 360 hours in all regions of Canada.
  • Increase duration to at least 50 weeks in all regions and provide a Special 52 week Extension when national unemployment exceeds 6.5%, paid from federal general revenues. Provide EI income benefits so long as workers are in approved training.
  • Increase EI to at least 60% of earnings using workers’ 12 best weeks. Raise the maximum benefit. Eliminate severance pay allocations and 2 week waiting period.

Download PDF

Employment Insurance (EI) Campaign

Here’s a new one-page PDF poster: “Changes to Employment Insurance

And a new 2-page report from the CLC: “The Cost of Falling EI Coverage

Click for the the Good Jobs For All “Fix Employment Insurance” resources:
Scrap the EI Changes’ petition
‘Take Action on EI’ flyer
EI Presentation (Prezi)


BUILDING A MOVEMENT AGAINST EI CUTS

The Good Jobs for All Coalition launched its campaign against the EI cuts at a packed forum on June 20th. For everyone who came out to the event, it became obvious that people in greater Toronto need to start fighting to defend what is left of this vital social safety net. Only 1 in 5 unemployed Torontonians received Employment Insurance (EI) benefits at any given time last year and the recent changes by the Conservative government will only make matters worse.

The new EI rules require 75% of EI claimants to accept work at a 20-30% pay cut, in a job outside their current profession, after just six weeks of job search. “Those changes will further erode our confidence in the safety net long considered one of the keystones of Canadian democracy” explained Tam Goossen, co-chair of the Good Jobs for All coalition and moderator of the forum.

The evening began with a panel of speakers from Toronto, Quebec and New Brunswick, including Kenny Hoosein, Steelworkers Job Action Centre, Armine Yalnizyan, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Patrick Rondeau, Conseiller regional Federation des travailleurs et des travailleuses and Daniel Legere, New Brunswick Scrap the Changes Resource Committee. Kenny spoke passionately of the experience of unemployed workers, while Armine provided a broad analysis and historical perspective of EI. Patrick and Daniel shared their experiences in organizing huge rallies in their communities, and called on Torontonians to build mass support to restore EI for all jobless workers.

Following the panel the audience of community and union members spoke of their experiences with EI and the need to Stop the Changes and Fix EI, so all unemployed workers have access to an insurance that they pay into – an insurance to take them through the challenging times between jobs.
Stay tuned on how you can become a part of this important campaign to build a movement against the EI cuts. For more information please take a look at “The Cost of Falling EI Coverage” and “Fix Employment Insurance.”

PDF version of Teachin-report

Join Us for a Special E.I. Teach-In!

Join Us for a Special E.I. Teach-In!

  • What’s driving low-wage work in Canada? How does it affect all of us? Are there alternatives?
  • What’s the impact of EI changes on the unemployed, younger workers and workers in precarious jobs? What’s their response?

Hear from guest speakers:

  • Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Special guests Patrick Rondeau, Conseiller régional Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses from Quebec and Daniel Legere, CUPE rep, New Brunswick Scrap the Changes Resource Committee
  • Workers impacted by the EI changes
  • Q & A to follow

Thursday, June 20, 2013
7 to 9 p.m.
Ryerson Student Centre (Tecumseh Auditorium)
55 Gould Street, Toronto (east of Yonge, north of Dundas E)
Dundas subway stop or municipal parking at Dundas & Victoria

PDF poster


Joignez-nous pour un atelier spécial sur l’assurance-emploi

  • Quel est le motif derrière le travail au rabais au Canada? Quel est l’effet sur nous tous? Y-a-til des alternatives?
  • Quel est l’impact des changements dans l’assurance-emploi sur les chô meurs, les jeunes et les tavailleurs précaires? Quelle est leur réponse?


Conférenciers invités

  • Armine Yalnizyan, economiste senior, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Des invités spéciaux de Quebec – Patrick Rondeau, Conseiller régional Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses et de Nouveau Brunswick – Daniel Legere, Nouveau Brunswick Comité Resource pour l’abandon des changements
  • Travailleurs et travailleuses affectées par les réformes de l’assurance-emploi
  • Questions et Réponses

Jeudi, 20 juin 2013
De 19:00 à 21:00
Ryerson Student Centre (Tecumseh Auditorium)
55 Gould Street, Toronto

affiche PDF

Solidarity Message from the Good Jobs for All Coalition

Scrap the EI Changes!

On behalf of the Good Jobs for All Coalition, representing more than 30 community and labour organizations in the Greater Toronto Area, we extend our solidarity to the thousands of demonstrators in Montreal, Edmundston and elsewhere who are protesting the Harper government’s assault on our hard-won Employment Insurance rights. We join with you in calling upon the government to “Scrap the EI Changes!”

This is not just an issue for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. The devastation of the EI changes will be felt across Canada, in many sectors and in big cities as well as rural areas. They will add insult to injury since only 40% of unemployed workers are actually receiving EI benefits.

The most vulnerable workers will bear the brunt of these changes. This is part of a cheap labour agenda that is creeping like a cancer into the fabric of our society. The Harper government’s attack on working people is evident everywhere, from its new anti-union legislation to the green light it is giving to discriminatory wages for Temporary Foreign Workers. It is unjust. It is outrageous.

Your mobilizations are truly impressive and have inspired us to launch our own fight-back campaign and to take action to build public awareness.

We thank you for your unwavering commitment and look forward to joining you in future actions that convey a strong and united message… Scrap Harper’s EI Changes! Fix EI! The EI system belongs to workers. We have a right to decent access and benefits. In the name of social justice, fairness and democracy,

Tam Goossen and Carolyn Egan
Co-Chairs of the Good Jobs for All Coalition,
Greater Toronto Area

Download PDF

Good Jobs for All Coalition Supports Protests Against EI Changes

‘Good Jobs for All Coalition’ Supports Protests Against EI Changes
April 25, 2013

(Toronto) This Saturday, April 27 thousands of workers and supporters are taking to the streets of Montreal to demand the Harper government withdraw its recent changes to Employment Insurance. Similarly, protesters in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia among others are calling on Ottawa to “Scrap the EI Changes.”

Inspired by these actions, the Toronto-based Good Jobs For All Coalition has announced the launch of its own campaign in the Greater Toronto area. “The impact of the EI changes will be felt right across Canada in many sectors and in big cities as well as rural areas. It’s not just an issue for Quebec and Atlantic provinces. These changes will be acutely felt here in the GTA too,” Coalition co-chair Tam Goossen said.

The Good Jobs Coalition which represents more than 30 community and labour organizations in the Greater Toronto Area has also sent a message of solidarity to the demonstrations in Montreal and Edmundston, New Brunswick. The Coalition identifies the attack on workers’ EI rights as “part of a cheap labour agenda creeping like a cancer into the fabric of our society” including the government’s new anti-union legislation and green light to lower wages for Temporary Foreign Workers.

The message ends with support for future actions “that convey a strong and united message to Scrap Harper’s EI Changes. And Fix EI.”

A petition on the Coalition’s website calls for:
• Better access to EI especially for those in precarious jobs. This would require an overhaul of the EI Hours system with a new qualifying minimum of 360 hours;
• Improved benefit rates;
• Extended benefit weeks to provide continued income benefits for workers in approved training programs, among others.

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For more information contact these Good Jobs For All Coalition representatives:
Judy Persad, organizer 416-441-3663 x 224
Winnie Ng Social Justice Chair, Ryerson University 647-291-3511
Laurell Ritchie, labour EI specialist 416-917-0047
For EI petition and backgrounders, please visit: goodjobsforall.ca/fix-employment-insurance