Canada’s unions are warning federal government of looming ‘benefits cliff’

February 18, 2021

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to extend income support for unemployed workers until at least the end of 2021 or they will soon face a ‘benefits cliff’.

The numbers of workers who are currently facing the prospect of an end to their benefits this March are staggering:

  • 844,000 workers were receiving the Canada Recovery Benefit in late January 2021;
  • 129,000 workers were receiving the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit in late January 2021;
  • Over 2.3 million people are receiving Employment Insurance benefits in February 2021.

“These workers need to know what happens next as they continue to face economic hardship and uncertainty,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “This pandemic is not ending anytime soon. We need the federal government to plan for the long-term and provide support for workers whose jobs have disappeared.”

Canada’s economy saw higher than expected job losses at the end of 2020 and another large drop in employment in January, with 213,000 jobs lost. Women and low-wage, racialized workers in precarious employment have been hit the hardest.

“It will be some time before Canada returns to full employment. The federal government must act now to ensure workers aren’t left struggling to put food on the table and cover their essential needs,” said Yussuff.

The federal government has already promised much-needed changes to Canada’s EI system. Read CLC’s recommendations for EI reform here.

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