Critical EI Fixes Stalled by Political Games, says CAW President

June 19, 2009, 2:07 PM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza called on the federal government to introduce long-overdue reforms to Canada's EI system, and considers Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to set up a working group on EI driven by political, rather than practical, motives.

"Laid off workers have been speaking publicly for months about the challenges they face in dealing with our broken EI system, this issue doesn't need to be studied or analyzed any further," Lewenza said. "There's no doubt that both political leaders are reluctant to call a federal election at this time and because of that unemployed Canadians are forced to continue suffering. This is simply outrageous."

Lewenza's comments follow a public demonstration today organized by the Good Jobs for All Coalition, involving unemployed workers, as well as labour and community activists, protesting on the doorstep of Michael Ignatieff's constituency office in Etobicoke, Ontario.

Lewenza said there's no surprise that unemployed workers are now directing their anger squarely at Ignatieff, after the Liberal Leader championed EI reforms for months he has now simply pushed the issue off of the table leaving hundreds of thousands of Canadians uncertain about their future.

"Ignatieff has failed unemployed workers on two occasions.  First, by supporting Stephen Harper's budget without winning improvements to EI and now by putting political maneuvering ahead of the needs of unemployed workers," Lewenza said.  "In the months ahead tens of thousands of unemployed workers are going to join the growing ranks of Canadians who have exhausted their EI benefits. They need action, not political posturing".

The CAW and other labour and community organizations are calling for a suite of EI reforms designed to improve access and extend benefits for laid-off workers across the country.

Canada's unemployment rate is currently 8.4%, the highest it's been in 11 years.


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