Harper's EI Cutbacks Hurt Communities

September 13, 2010, 4:00 PM EST


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The Harper government's decision to do away with the five-week extension on Employment Insurance only creates more hardship and uncertainty for working people, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW/CAW) say.

The five-week extension affects workers across Canada and basically allows workers to receive benefits for an extra five weeks.

"This measure has put more than $1 billion into communities, many of them fishing communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador where workers have been hard hit by market downturns and the recession," said FFAW President Earle McCurdy in a September 10 news release.

"It is unacceptable and incomprehensible that the federal government would even consider getting rid of this program at this time - in fact, this is something that should be made a permanent fixture of the EI program."

The FFAW, supported by the CAW and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, collected and sent thousands of letters and petitions from workers and employers across the province that calls for crucial EI measures to be maintained.

The FFAW and CAW has urged the Harper government to:

- maintain the five week extension;
- continue the pilot project that allows workers to use their best 14 weeks of employment on which to base their EI claim. This project provides crucial support for workers in 25 different regions where unemployment is eight per cent or higher - it's scheduled to end for new claims after October 23, 2010;
- extend the project that allows workers to earn 40 per cent of their rate while on an EI claim. This project is slated to end Dec. 4, 2010.

"These programs are of critical importance for workers, especially those in seasonal industries like construction, tourism and the fishery," McCurdy said.

FFAW Industrial-Retail Vice-President Allan Moulton said he's heard directly from workers across Newfoundland and Labrador who are concerned about the impact of being eliminated from EI.

"Obviously the Harper government has no understanding of what these programs mean to workers in seasonal industries, and to working Canadians and employers during these times of recession."

 

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