An improved Employment Insurance program would provide a better stimulus to the economy

OTTAWA – An improved Employment Insurance program would provide a better
stimulus to the economy than anything the federal government has tried so
far, says Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti.

He was responding to the release by Statistics Canada of labour force
figures for June 2009, when a net of 47,500 workers lost their full-time
jobs. There are now about 1.6 million unemployed Canadians, an unemployment rate of 8.6%. Fewer than half of the unemployed are actually collecting benefits due to rules, regulations and obstructions embedded in the EI system.

“This government can’t seem to get its infrastructure projects off the
ground but it could stimulate the economy overnight by improving EI
benefits,” Georgetti says. “We know the unemployed spend every dollar that they receive directly into the local community. Improving EI is the best and easiest way to kick start the economy.”

Georgetti says a recent decision by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to create yet another committee to study EI is a mistake. “We already know what has to be done and putting off changes for months will only hurt unemployed Canadians, their families and their communities. Many people who lost their jobs last fall have already used up their EI benefits. They are going to end up on social assistance and at food banks.”

Georgetti says there is a growing consensus that EI must be improved. “Our recommendations have been supported by premiers, mayors, city councillors and by editorial writers from major newspapers. The federal government has to fix Employment Insurance now – not next fall or winter.”

The CLC is calling on Ottawa to:

. change accessibility rules to provide regular EI benefits on the
basis of 360 hours of work, no matter where people live and work in Canada.

. make all workers eligible for up to 50 weeks of EI benefits.

. raise benefits immediately to 60% of earnings calculated on a
worker’s best 12 weeks of earnings.

Quick Analysis from Senior Economist, Sylvain Schetagne

The deterioration of the labour market continues (-7,400). In June 2009,
47,500 full-time workers were laid off but other part-time
jobs/self-employed jobs were created. Overall, 454,000 full-time jobs have
disappeared since last October.

The proportion of Canadians forced to work part-time or become self-employed
is increasing rapidly. Since October 2008, the number of Canadians working
part-time increased by 84,000, now representing 19.5% of the workforce.
Part-time work was 18.6% of the workforce in October 2008. The number of
self-employed Canadians increased by 37,000 in June only, and
self-employment is up 1.5% since last October.

Canada’s unemployment rate increased from 8.4% in May to 8.6% in June, the
highest level in 11 years. In June, the number of unemployed Canadians
increased by 43,500. Canada now has 1,592,000 unemployed men and women. The
total number of unemployed has increased by 440,000 since October 2008. This
represents an increase of 38.3% since last October.

The manufacturing sector continues to be disproportionately hit by job
losses. In June 2009, another 25,700 jobs in manufacturing were eliminated.
In Canada, 567,000 jobs in manufacturing have been eliminated since November

Finally, the unemployment rate for workers aged 15 to 24 is rising rapidly,
reaching 15.9% in June 2009. Just in June 2009, 33,300 young working
Canadians lost their job, and about 6.4% of all jobs performed by youth
disappeared since last October. Also, the labour market for students is much
worse than last year. When compared to June 2008, 43,000 jobs usually
performed by students aged 20 to 24 years old have disappeared.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement,
represents 3.2 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

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