The federal government announced it will end CERB - the emergency benefits that have been a lifeline for millions of us who lost our jobs or our income as a result of COVID-19. We know it will take many months before the economy is working at full capacity, and millions will continue to need support. It’s urgent we demand adequate income for all, for as long as necessary.
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Without action, people affected by COVID-19 will be forced to rely on Employment Insurance (EI), which in its currents state will be financially devastating. The reality is, too many people who relied on CERB to make ends meet wouldn't be able to access EI, or survive on it. It is crucial that income supports continue, including for workers who've returned to work but are only offered a few shifts per week due to partial re-opening.
The federal government must:
Improve Employment Insurance (EI)
- Increase the weekly minimum payment to $500 or 75% of past wages and 85% for low wage workers (whichever is more)
- Ensure universal access by reducing hours of work for eligibility and eliminating arbitrary rules that deny people access (quit/fire or refuse to work due to unsafe work, child care, and misclassification of employees as independent contractors)
- Extend the duration so workers have access for as long as they need it and provide access to workers who’s hours have been reduced
- Continue the $2,000 a month income support for all those who can't access EI
- Honour the promise for the $15 federal minimum wage
- Ensure full immigration status for all
Other background information:
- Statement on Employment Insurance & parallel benefit by Workers' Action Centre: Statement on EI and income support
- Protecting Workers and the Economy: Principles for a New Employment Insurance System: https://atkinsonfoundation.ca/site/uploads/2020/07/Protecting-Workers-and-the-Economy_-Memo-to-the-PMO-and-PCO-1.pdf
- Report: Unheeded Warnings – COVID-19 & Migrant Workers in Canada: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/unheeded warnings/ This shocking report provides a snapshot of the abuses faced by migrant farmworkers, including stolen wages during quarantine, being forced to work while awaiting COVID-19 test results, racist threats, decrepit housing and inhumane treatment.
Analysis: Millions of workers face tough choices as high-risk work re-opens during COVID-19: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/millions-workers-face-tough-choices-high-risk-work-re-opens-during-covid-19