In just 17 days, the Emergency Response Benefits for the first cohort of workers who lost their income as a result of COVID-19 will end.
The federal government says workers will be moved over to the Employment Insurance (EI) system, but we know EI is completely inadequate.
As it stands more than two-thirds of the current 4.7 million CERB recipients will NOT qualify for EI (Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) .
Those who do receive EI benefits will have to survive on 55% of previous income. For low-wage and part-time workers, this means financial ruin.
Among the nearly 1.5 million workers who might get EI benefits, more than half will receive less than $500 per week and their average weekly EI benefit will be $312. An average weekly benefit of $312 means many thousands of workers will get even less.
This is not only catastrophic for workers, but also terrible for the economy. As the Toronto Star Editorial Board recently concluded:
"… Pushing hundreds of thousands of people into poverty would risk stalling the recovery that’s now underway. About half the jobs that were lost in the depths of the lockdown in April have already come back, and we can expect unemployment to keep falling. But if the purchasing power that was pumped into the economy through CERB is suddenly cut off, that could plunge the country into a prolonged recession."
That’s why we all have an interest in making sure workers have the income support they need, for as long as they need it. But there’s not a moment to lose.
The federal government is making decisions right now and we need you, to raise your voice. Will you contact your member of parliament to demand urgent action? Please take a moment right now to sign our new petition, click here.
After signing the petition at www.15andfairness.org/protectworkers, please consider visiting your MP to bring this message directly to them. Click here to access posters & other resources to plan your visit.
#SafeSeptember must mean paid sick days for ALL
More than half the workforce in Canada has no access to permanent paid sick days. This fact has exacerbated the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.
And the crisis is set to intensify as governments push schools to re-open -- but without the necessary funding for smaller classes, more staff, and health and safety protocols. Crucially, paid sick days for all of us must be the cornerstone of a #SafeSeptember. Click here to see what parents and educators are calling for, to ensure schools can open safely.
Without employer-paid sick days, parents cannot afford to stay home with an unwell child and they have little choice but to send their sick child to school. This is dangerous and costly at the best of times, but during a pandemic it’s deadly.
Meanwhile, a shocking number of workers on the frontlines of the early childhood, elementary, secondary and post-secondary education systems themselves also have NO paid sick days!
That’s why the Fight for $15 and Fairness is organizing another pan-Canadian day of action on August 29 to demand for paid sick days for all. Let us know you’ll take action on August 29 by registering now: click here.
Join the next online organizing meeting, August 18
More than ever, it is crucial that we keep organizing to win decent work during the pandemic to protect our communities. As the recent expose by Toronto Star reporters Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Jennifer Yang reveals -- precarious employment is itself a vector for spreading disease.
While we fight to ensure a $500 weekly minimum income and paid sick days for all, we must also take on the long standing racism in the labour market. As human rights lawyer Anthony Morgan explains:
"Black and other racialized people in Canada were already discriminated against in the workforce before the pandemic. They are now overrepresented in the lower-paid and precarious frontline jobs that pose the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. … So, if we really want to make Black Lives Matter, we have to make Black Jobs Matter too."