OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/01/13 -- The President of the Canadian Labour Congress says the federal government should scrap changes it has made to Employment Insurance regulations, which punish unemployed workers and treat them like second class citizens.
"These changes are not only cruel but they are poorly conceived," says CLC President Ken Georgetti. "It has been reported in the media that Diane Finley, the minister-in-charge, admitted that no studies were done in advance to gauge the impact that these changes would have upon workers. This is unbelievable."
The government forced legislation through parliament in 2012 that makes it more difficult for unemployed workers to receive EI. Claimants are now expected to accept any job within 100 kilometres of their home, whether or not it fits their skills and training, and as long the pay is 70 per cent of their previous salary.
"The minister has provided her regional offices with monthly quotas for slashing EI benefits to individuals and there are reports that government staff are showing up at the homes of unemployed workers to snoop on them," Georgetti says. "This has to stop."
Georgetti also criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for saying (on February 28) that unions are engaging in a campaign of misinformation about changes to the EI program. "This Prime Minister has made it a practice to shirk responsibility and to blame everyone else for his own government's policy failures. This is politics at its worst and it's not going to solve our unemployment problems."
Georgetti adds that according to Statistics Canada figures only 37.9% of unemployed Canadians actually qualify for Employment Insurance, and there are 5.0 unemployed people for every job vacancy. "The government should stop stigmatizing people who are out of work through no fault of their own, and start adopting policies that will lead to the creation of good, family supporting jobs."
Georgetti says the CLC has warned the government that the next pressure point will arrive on April 1 when 250 referees who hear 26,000 EI appeals a year will be replaced by just 39 people.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour
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