EI benefits are too low to cope with the recession | National Union of Public and General Employees

EI benefits are too low to cope with the recession

CCPA study says March budget should extend benefits to at least 26 weeks for unemployed Canadians.

Ottawa (26 Jan. 2010) - Employment Insurance (EI) benefits should be extended to at least 26 weeks by the Harper government in its March budget to help unemployed Canadians cope with the recession, says a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Extended benefits should be available to everyone who has or will receive benefits from October 2008 to October 2010, say Andrew Jackson and Sylvain Schetange, the authors of the study. Entitled Is EI Working for Canada's Unemployed? - Analyzing The Great Recession, the study is available at this web address or at the link below.

The two Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) economists say extended benefits are needed to assist the thousands of unemployed workers who have already run out of benefits or are on the verge of losing them.

“Even before the recession, more than one in four EI claimants exhausted benefits before finding a new job,” Jackson notes. "It is estimated that as many as 500,000 Canadians who initiated an EI claim in 2009 will exhaust their benefits because new jobs remain difficult to find.”

The study says Canadians exhausting benefits are moving in rising numbers to provincial social assistance.

The fact that Ottawa has already extended benefits for some claimants by periods ranging from five to 20 weeks is not enough to cope with the "extreme stress test" of the current global recession, the CCPA says.

“The number of unemployed workers not in receipt of EI benefits jumped from 650,760 in October 2008 to 777,400 in October 2009,” the study notes.

The study estimates the cost of its proposals at $4 billion. Canadian workers have paid far more than that - at least $50 billion more - over the past 10 to 15 years in excess contributions that they have not received back in benefits during periods when the economy was stronger and unemployment rates were lower.

Federal governments have simply kept the extra billions and added the money to its general revenue fund.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
• Is EI Working for Canada's Unemployed? - Analyzing the Great Recession

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