On April 8, 2021, the Good Jobs for All Coalition joined with 75 community and labour organizations from across Canada in signing on to a brief to the HUMA Parliamentary Committee for its study of EI. The brief “Employment Insurance for the 21st Century: How Do We Make E.I. Work for Workers?” was submitted by the Inter-provincial EI Working Group and makes 15 recommendations focused on:
- Better EI Financing,
- Better EI Access for More Workers,
- Better EI Benefits and
- Better Supports and Access to Justice for EI Claimants.
On April 22, Pam Frache of the Workers Action Centre spoke to the brief during the HUMA hearings (15:43:22 time mark).
Cross-Canada Statement Calls on Government to Extend Recovery and EI Benefits, and Make Lasting Reforms
CRB-EI Extension and Reform – English
PCRE-d’assurance emploi – Français
The Transition – Post CERB Benefits and EI.
Take a look at this presentation about how the transition is expected to happen. It is a joint project of the GJFA EI Working Group and the Ontario Legal Aid Clinics EI Working Group.
Building a New Unemployment Insurance System
Among other things, COVID-19 put a spotlight on long-standing shortcomings of Canada’s EI system. Good Jobs for All’s EI Working Group worked hard to address the immediate needs of workers affected by the health and economic crisis (see April 13 and March 9 postings).
Now, the Working Group has identified proposals for rebuilding EI in the immediate and longer term. These include:
- Waiving qualifying hours
- Eliminating disqualification for those who quit “voluntarily” during the pandemic
- Adjusting Work Sharing as a tool for a phased return to work
- EI and EI-CERB costs must be assigned to general revenues, not EI
- Many more elements
Please read Building a New Unemployment Insurance System for details.
Support the call for change! Write to your MP; the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion; and to the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Chair, Cabinet Committee on the federal response to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
GJFA’s EI Working Group
Good Jobs For All’s EI Working Group has worked hard to shape Canada’s approach to supporting workers affected by the pandemic. The EI Working Group, along with partners such as West Scarborough Community Legal Services, was responsible for many recent victories regarding income support by the federal government including the following:
- Waiving the one week waiting period for people collecting EI Sick Benefits
- Removing the requirement for a medical note
- Creating a new benefit for those who are ineligible for EI, including workers without enough hours (called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB)
- Setting a higher rate for the CERB
- Reducing complexity
- Speeding up the application and payment processes
For information about applying for the CERB visit canada.ca
To help people navigate through the system as well as deal with other COVID-19 issues, take a look at the following documents and YouTube videos from West Scarborough Community Legal Services (and subscribe to the channel so you get information about new videos):
Labour Council also has related information on its website:
The Good Jobs for All Coalition is collaborating with others to improve access to EI Benefits by working Canadians. See the letters below for more information:
Something’s Really Wrong with Workers’ E.I. Safety Net
We Need to Fix EI!
Here are some questions to ask Federal election candidates.
- We need to start paying attention to the huge cracks in our EI system – or pay the price with the next economic slowdown or recession.
- Politicians may focus on EI parental or seasonal benefits but the main job of EI is to provide income security when we’re laid off or lose a job.
We pay weekly EI premiums so the safety net’s there when we need it.
- EI rules are too harsh, especially for those in part-time and temporary jobs.
Download PDF flyer and questions.
Angella MacEwen – January 26, 2016
Low oil prices have taken their toll on an already weak Canadian economy, where household debt levels are at record highs and business investment continues to lag. The Bank of Canada held off on a further rate cut this week, opting instead to wait and see the size and structure of fiscal stimulus in the upcoming federal budget.
This decision comes as economists are split between the need for “shovel-ready” infrastructure spending and longer-term investments. Alongside this debate are calls for stimulus targeted to oil-producing provinces, especially Alberta. That debate misses the fact that the most shovel-ready and targeted fiscal stimulus is employment insurance. Meaningful infrastructure spending can take months or years to get off the ground, but unemployed workers get (and spend) EI benefits within weeks. Money flows directly to hard-hit communities exactly when they need it.
This is why the optimal policy mix for our current economic situation includes temporary EI measures and faster implementation of some EI election promises. The temporary measures will act as stimulus, and the implementation of the election promises will make sure that access to benefits is fairer for unemployed workers.
2015 Election Employment Insurance:
What’s Needed? Who Promised What?
See what the parties say – download PDF
To mark the first contributions made to the unemployment insurance fund more than 73 years ago (July 1, 1941), the Public Service Alliance of Canada is launching “Employment Insurance in Canada: Hitting Rock Bottom”, a short animated video on the decline of the EI program over the last 25 years.
“Since the 1990’s, the Employment Insurance Program has been decimated by successive Liberal and Conservative governments to the point where it no longer fulfills its mission to protect Canadian workers from the hardship of unemployment,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC national president.