Posted: Friday, 26 October 2012
The Canadian Labour Congress is criticizing a decision by the federal government to end a successful Employment Insurance pilot project that benefited workers living in regions with high unemployment.
The Extended Employment Insurance Benefits Pilot Project provided an extra five weeks of benefits to people living in 21 designated regions across the country. The program was introduced in 2004 and last renewed in 2010, but the federal government phased it out quietly as of September 15.
“The loss of this program is going to be devastating to unemployed workers and their communities, particularly in rural Atlantic Canada and the North,” says CLC President Ken Georgetti.
As of September 15, unemployed workers in these regions are losing access to the extra five weeks of benefits. Georgetti says, “People want to work but as of July 2012, there were between nine and 11 unemployed persons in Atlantic Canada for each job vacancy. The unemployment rate in rural Atlantic Canada is running at between 11 and 17 per cent.”
Georgetti adds, “We told the Human Resources Minister that changes to this EI pilot project would have a serious impact on high unemployment regions but she chose to ignore our advice. We believe the government has made a mistake an that it should reinstate the program.”