Every worker must be paid fairly, says Unifor on federal COVID-19 response

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A graphic reads: "Close the gaps. Pay every worker."

March 19, 2020

TORONTO – The continued rapid spread of COVID-19 disease calls for a more drastic response from government, says Unifor, which has outlined a package of urgent recommendations designed to make income assistance more accessible, and bring more money to workers in need.

“The significant policy package announced yesterday shows that the Government of Canada understands the seriousness of the crisis, but there are still some workers who will fall between the cracks of the EI system,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

“Decades of shameful cuts has weakened the Employment Insurance system, and now Canadians are paying the price. Layoffs are happening at a rapid pace across the country and our union is working to demand  income protection programs are in place,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National Secretary – Treasurer.

On the current timeline, the proposed Emergency Care and Emergency Support Funds will be delivered in the beginning of April and the GST credit and Child Care Benefit additional funds will not be made available until May.

“Workers need support now from employers and the EI system. Canada’s COVID-19 cases continue to grow exponentially, and providing financial security will help people to stay home and stay safe,” said Dias. “As this crisis worsens, all workers need guaranteed wages and enhanced safety procedures if they are still the job,”

Unifor is calling on the federal government to waive the one-week waiting period for regular EI benefits, similar to changes made for sick benefits. The union is also calling for income replacement levels for both EI and non-EI program recipients of 80 per cent of regular earnings, along with various administrative measures to ensure greater access to benefits in a more timely way. 

Unifor’s updated list of policy demands can be found at unifor.org/COVID19, a website Unifor launched as a hub for member information about the pandemic.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 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.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor’s Director of Communications, Natalie Clancy at Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org or 416-707-5794 (cell).