CAW President Calls for National Summit on the Economy

February 6, 2009, 11:36 AM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is urging the Prime Minister to call a national summit of government, business and labour leaders, in response to the mounting number of job losses.

Lewenza was responding to the loss of 129,000 jobs in January, released today by Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey. Notably more than 100,000 of these lost jobs came from the manufacturing sector, but few sectors were untouched by job loss.

"All the stakeholders must come together to develop a strategy to get the Canadian economy back on track," said Lewenza. "We need a comprehensive strategy that includes investment, infrastructure and the environment. We can't just sit back and wait for the economy to fix itself because it won't."

"This federal government has repeatedly shown itself unable to manage the economy, so it is crucial that we not waste any more time and implement solutions now as hundreds of thousands of people are put out of work," he said. In the last four months alone, 213,000 jobs have been lost. Lewenza also urged the implementation of a national Buy Canadian procurement strategy to better link stimulus spending to our battered manufacturing industries.

Lewenza also called for immediate changes to the unemployment insurance (EI) system which would include the elimination of the two-week waiting period, an increase to benefit rates and a reduction in the number of hours needed to qualify.

"With more than 1.3 million Canadians unemployed across the country, changes to EI are not only necessary, they are extremely urgent to prevent people from losing their homes and falling deeply into poverty," said Lewenza.

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