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Unifor tells Federal Finance Committee to close gap in CERB

May 21, 2020 - 12:00 AM

May 21, 2020

TORONTO–Unifor reiterated its call for the federal government to grant workers receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to receive the Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) they would be entitled to under normal layoff circumstances, during testimony today before the Federal Finance Committee.

“The CERB has flaws that need fixing. At the top of that list is for Ministers Morneau and Qualtrough to allow employer-paid, and Service Canada registered Supplemental Unemployment Benefits alongside CERB,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias told the Committee. “It is ludicrous that the Ministers are denying hundreds of thousands of workers additional income supports, some as much as $500-600 per week, that employers are ready, willing and able to pay,” added Dias.

Unifor alone has negotiated SUB plans for approximately 50,000 of its members in multiple sectors including auto, rail, steel, aerospace, public service and health care. In the health care industry, the SUB plans are designed to top up EI sick leave benefits for frontline workers in long-term care homes. Major companies, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, have also appealed to the government to allow SUB payments to their workers.

On April 15, Unifor sent a letter to Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough to ask the federal government to close the glaring gap in CERB and modify regulations to allow workers to collect both the CERB and SUB.

Subsequently, the union launched a national petition to close the loophole that unfairly denies workers SUB payments, won at the bargaining table, that they would normally receive when laid off.

“Fixing this will cost our public purse precisely nothing. Yet, the answer has consistently been no,” Dias testified. “It takes simple regulatory fix that Unifor proposed more than a month ago.”

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype or FaceTime interview with Jerry Dias please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).