New Statcan data shows temporary EI measures are worth keeping for the long run

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"Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland standing at podiums in front of Canadian flags"

TORONTO—The stark drop in workers disqualified from Employment Insurance during COVID-19 shows that the pandemic EI measures should be renewed, says Unifor.

“The report confirms what workers have been telling the federal government for months: the pandemic EI improvements worked,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The federal government should act swiftly to renew EI improvements and make permanent changes that benefit workers. Canadian labour market policy should support labour market power for workers.”

According to a report published August 18, 2022 by Statistics Canada, the average monthly disqualifications from EI fell from 86,000 to 44,000 after the federal government implemented improved qualification criteria in September 2020 to address rising unemployment caused by the pandemic.

This enhancement and other temporary EI measures are set to expire on September 25, 2022. A broad coalition of labour unions are pushing the federal government to ensure the best features of the enhanced EI programs introduced during COVID-19 are renewed so the program better assists unemployed workers.

“It has been a difficult period for all workers. But a return to the status quo is a huge mistake—‘normal’ was never good enough for workers relying on employment insurance,” said Payne. “Like healthcare, we must strengthen EI to be an equitable and accessible program that works for Canadians when they need it most.”

Unifor participated in the government’s multi-staged consultation process, amplifying the voices of rank-and-file members who have experienced the failing EI program first-hand. The union’s recommendations include detailed and data-driven suggestions for boosting the number of struggling workers who qualify and securing an inclusive, equitable and resilient Employment Insurance program for decades to come.

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.