Call the Prime Minister: Restore $500/week in federal income support & Fix EI!

Background:

  • On October 23, Canada Recovery Benefits ended and almost a million people were left without income support. 
  • In the meantime, the Omicron variant spread like wildfire, creating supply chain bottlenecks and other economic turmoil. 
  • Because Omicron spread so fast, thousands of workers have been too sick to work. That has meant staff reductions, reduced capacity, and intensified pressure on those still working.
  • At the same time, the job and income losses trigger further reductions in production as demand slows, creating additional layoffs.
  • Despite some changes to the federal Lock Down benefit, there are still too many restrictions and $300/week is not enough to support us. Workers in Saskatchewan are not even eligible! 
  • Meanwhile, Employment Insurance is still too restrictive - and inadequate - to be effective. The 7-days-without-income rule is too harsh for multiple job holders and those of us who have lost hours, but not their whole income. At present, the EI MAXIMUM just $638.00 (pre-tax) and at 55% of previous income, most workers won't get the maximum. 55% of $15/hr at 35 hours per week is $288.75 (pre-tax)
  • Let’s not forget: federal Income support - including Employment Insurance - is just as crucial for the economy as it is for us, since we spend the money in our local communities. These benefits help workers and local businesses weather the COVID storm and aftermath.

What workers need:

  1. Restore $500/week in federal income support
  2. Grant repayment amnesty for low-income claimants who received federal COVID benefits
  3. Eliminate restrictive rules that make it harder for workers to access it
  4. Make changes retroactive to October 23, 2021 when CRB ended, not just to December 19
  5. Immediate action on permanent reforms to EI:
  • 360 hours or 12 weeks to qualify for EI, 50-weeks duration for benefits and an end to regressive disqualifications;
  • The 7-days-without-income rule is too harsh for multiple job holders or those who have lost hours but not their whole income.
  • $500 per week minimum in benefits, 75% of income and a higher cap on insured income
  • A new annual federal government contribution to EI to help pay for improvements and ensure EI acts as an automatic economic stabilizer at times of crisis
  • To be effective as an economic stabilizer AND as a social safety net, EI must be made accessible to those in non-standard work, including migrant workers and those wrongly classified as “independent contractors.”

Who to call? 

Suggested talking points 

(Please feel free to use your own words and experiences!)

Hello,

My name is ______________ and I’m calling about federal income supports. The Omicron variant has added additional turmoil to our health and to the economy. 

I am calling on you to do whatever needs to be done to restore the federal benefit rate of $500 per week, eliminate the new rules that make it hard for workers to get, and to make it retroactive to October 23 when hundreds of thousands of us were cut-off.

I am also calling on you to support urgent action on permanent reforms to Employment Insurance. I'm looking for:

  • better access like a new qualifying rule of 360 hours or 12 weeks of work; 
  • improved benefit rates including a $500 weekly minimum
  • the elimination of unfair disqualification rules; and 
  • access for those in non-standard work, including migrants and workers wrongly classified as “independent contractors.”

The government should also make a yearly contribution to the EI Account to help pay for the improvements and to make sure EI is there for more of us now -- and when the next crisis hits.

My phone number is ________ and my mailing address is __________.

I would like a response as soon as possible. 

Thank you!