After initial delays, Bill C-24, which extends EI benefits by an additional 24 weeks, passed in Parliament today with all-party support. Canada’s unions are now calling on the Senate to quickly adopt it, as hundreds of thousands of workers in Canada are still struggling to find jobs, even though job numbers are improving overall.
“The job recovery may look good on paper, but far too many people remain out of work,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC. “Unemployed workers and their families are counting on the EI extension which should have been a done deal by now. No one should have to worry about how they will feed their family or keep a roof over their head. The Senate must not delay in adopting this crucial legislation.”
Statistics Canada released February’s job numbers this morning. They show dramatic gains in the labour force, particularly in lower-wage jobs. Racialized workers still reported higher levels of unemployment than non-racialized workers. Year-over-year employment losses among young women were nearly double those seen among young men.
“Some areas of the country are still experiencing ongoing lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19,” said Yussuff. “Workers have now struggled to make ends meet for a year, through no fault of their own, and they must be supported until Canada’s economy recovers.”
In addition to measures needed to help support workers now, the federal government must also plan for a strong economic recovery when the pandemic is over.
With the federal budget around the corner, Canada’s unions are hoping to see greater access to training opportunities for jobless workers and equitable investments in critical social infrastructure that will ensure that no one is left behind in Canada’s recovery efforts.
Canada can also strengthen its social safety net by making much needed improvements to the current EI system.