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NUPGE calls on federal govt to keep temporary improvements to EI

Speak out against the end of the improvements to the EI program. You can send a letter to to their Members of Parliament by clicking here

Ottawa (15 Sept. 2022) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on the federal government to keep temporary improvements to the Employment Insurance (EI) program in place until permanent changes can be made. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Bert Blundon, President of NUPGE pointed out that, when the federal government has acknowledged that the pre-pandemic EI program was inadequate, going back to pre-pandemic rules is breaking faith with workers.

Temporary improvements set to expire on September 24

On September 24, the last of the temporary measures put in place during the pandemic will expire. This means that we will go back to the pre-pandemic rules for EI — even though the government knows that reverting to pre-pandemic rules will lead to problems. When the temporary rules end, it will be harder for laid off workers to qualify for EI, and the time it takes to process claims will increase.

Making it harder to get EI will make problems like labour shortages, low wages, inequality worse

Workers are already struggling to find full-time good paying jobs. With rising inflation, famiies are working with even less resources than before. Removing these improvements will once again leave workers with no income when they’re laid off.  It won’t do anything to solve shortages of trained workers in sectors like health care or construction. It also doesn’t address problems like the shortage of affordable housing, which can be traced back to the decisions of both Liberal and Conservative federal governments in the 1990s to stop funding the construction of new affordable housing.

Abandoning workers

The federal government had promised that permanent improvements to the EI program would be introduced. The mandate letter to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion called for plans for “a stronger and more inclusive system that covers all workers” to be brought forward before the temporary measure,s expired.

Instead, there is no sign of a stronger and more inclusive system and the federal government is moving back to the pre-pandemic rules that it knows are deeply flawed. 

Let your MP know how you feel

The Canadian Labour Congress has set up a page to make it easier for people to speak out against the end of improvement to the EI program. It includes a message people can send to their Members of Parliament. 

Reviving austerity policies

While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, corporations, many wealthy individuals, and the think tanks they fund are already calling for austerity policies. The federal Conservative Party is enthusiastically talking about the need for cuts — while trying to avoid being specific about where they would cut. 

With the decision to end temporary improvements to EI without putting permanent reforms in place, it appears that the Liberals are also looking at austerity policies.