Keep EI ex­ten­sion: McCurdy

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

A de­ci­sion by fed­eral govern­ment to end a five-week ex­ten­sion on em­ploy­ment in­surance ben­e­fits is be­ing con­demned by the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union (FFAW).

The de­ci­sion to do away with the ex­ten­sion, which came into ef­fect on Sept. 11, will cre­ate more hard­ship and un­cer­tainty for peo­ple al­ready strug­gling in a re­ces­sion.

“ This mea­sure has put more than $1 bil­lion into com­mu­ni­ties, many of them fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties through­out New­found­land and Labrador where work­ers have been hard hit by mar­ket down­turns and the re­ces­sion,” union pres­i­dent Earle McCurdy said re­cently in a state­ment.

“It is un­ac­cept­able and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble that the fed­eral govern­ment would even con­sider get­ting rid of this pro­gram at this time — in fact, this is some­thing that should be made a per­ma­nent fix­ture of the EI pro­gram.”

In July, McCurdy and Cana­dian Auto Work­ers pres­i­dent Ken Lewenza sent a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper, urg­ing him to con­tinue the five-week ex­ten­sion, ex­tend a project that al­lows work­ers to earn 40 per cent of their rate while on EI, and to con­tinue a pi­lot project that al­lows work­ers to base their EI claims on their best 14 weeks of em­ploy­ment.

“ These pro­grams are of crit­i­cal im­por­tance for work­ers, es­pe­cially those in sea­sonal in­dus­tries like con­struc­tion, tourism and the fish­ery,” McCurdy said.

“ What the fed­eral govern­ment ap­pears to be do­ing is pulling the rug out from un­der them, and even in the case of the earn­ing 40 per cent while on claim, cre­at­ing dis­in­cen­tive for peo­ple to work. It’s un­fath­omable.”

Union vice-pres­i­dent Al­lan Moul­ton said “it makes ab­so­lutely no sense” for the fed­eral govern­ment to can­cel the five­week ex­ten­sion, ac­cord­ing to the news re­lease.

“ It leaves me very concerned about what their in­ten­tions are with the other mea­sures in­clud­ing the best 14 weeks and the abil­ity to earn money while on a claim,” he said.

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