Keep EI extension: McCurdy
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.