Fix Employment Insurance

April 5, 2013: New EI ‘Best Weeks’ Rules

New Rules Mean Lower Benefits in Some High Unemployment Regions… download PDF.

Fix Employment Insurance

Fighting the “flexible labour” agenda

The Federal Government has made drastic changes to Employment Insurance and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. In particular, unemployed workers and migrant workers will be forced into lower wages. These aggressive measures are part of an ongoing “flexible labour” agenda from the Harper government – a race to the bottom where workers continue to be squeezed more and more. “Flexible” means lowering workers’ expectations in terms of wages, benefits and working standards.

Those who don’t have full-time, guaranteed employment throughout the year will be the most impacted by changes to Employment Insurance. Roughly two-thirds of current recipients would be punished for not being able to find jobs. Lower paid workers who accept employment while on benefit will be penalized for taking a precarious job by a reduction in their EI benefits. Other changes include eliminating Labour representatives in the EI appeal process.

In addition to these changes, a low-wage “new normal” is being established across the country with the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). This has always been an employer-driven program, and the new changes mean that there is more leeway given to employers to bring in workers within shorter time periods. Employers can also pay Temporary Foreign Workers 5 to 15 percent less than the average wage for that occupation. The changes to Employment Insurance now mean that workers with active Employment Insurance claims will be pushed into jobs earmarked for Temporary Foreign Workers, including jobs that pay 5 to 15 percent less.

The economic crisis has left working people more vulnerable than ever and these changes will make things worse. A strong EI program is an important economic stabilizer. We want Parliament to fix EI by improving eligibility and increasing duration of benefits, and stop letting employers get away with taking advantage of migrant workers. Good Jobs for All believes that good jobs with decent pay and collective protections for workers are essential to strong communities. We are undertaking a long-term campaign to get Parliament to repeal these regressive changes.

Join our campaign by emailing to be added to our campaign mailing list.

Take Action

Click here to download a petition to Parliament about fixing EI.

Click here to download Good Jobs for All’s background document – Scrap EI Changes!

Our Demands:

  1. Rescind all Bill C-38 measures related to Employment Insurance.
  2. Rescind Temporary Foreign Worker 5-15% wage variances and 10 day fast tracking.
  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 an extra year Special Extension when national unemployment exceeds 6.5%, paid from federal general revenues.  Provide EI income benefits so long as a worker is in approved training.
    • Increase benefits to at least 60% of earnings using workers’ 12 best weeks and raise the maximum benefit.  Eliminate the allocation of severance pay and 2 week waiting period.

A community-labour coalition