As Parliament new session begins in Ottawa, the National Council of Unemployed Workers (NCUW) is launching new campaign, Reforming Employment Insurance: an empty promise?  asking whether the government intends to follow through on its commitment to reform Employment Insurance to make it fairer, more modern, and more equitable.

“The signals from the government are contradictory, to say the least, when they are not worrying. The presentation of the reform plan to Cabinet, scheduled for this week, has been postponed several times: the government was originally talking about implementing it in the summer of 2022,” said Pierre Céré, spokesperson for the NCUW. “We are particularly concerned about Minister Freeland’s recent statements calling for fiscal prudence and reduction of government programs, which are virtually interchangeable with the Conservative leader’s discourse”

As part of its campaign, the NCUW is advertising in newspapers and online to keep the issue of EI reform in the public debate. The NCUW is calling for reform with the following objectives:

  • Expanding coverage for workers who are excluded or poorly protected. Expanding coverage also means establishing a single eligibility criterion, better suited for the 21st century. It also means easing the severe penalties for terminations currently deemed invalid: one in four applicants who have worked and contributed with EI premiums in the past year are denied coverage because of these penalties.
  • Improving protections, by aiming to raise the floor of the benefit period, as well as the rate and the way it is calculated. It is also to simplify the application of this program through the introduction of simpler universal rules, as this program has become unnecessarily complex. Finally, the issue of administrative delays and other dysfunctions experienced by claimants must be addressed: these delays are unacceptable, and we ask that these problems be resolved as quickly as possible.

“In the current political and economic context, it seems that it is now or never to reform Employment insurance. Does the government have the courage to move forward?”, concluded Pierre Céré.