Better Pay and Benefits

EI program failing unemployed workers: CLC comments on Statistics Canada employment numbers

January 4, 2013
OTTAWA – The Employment Insurance program continues to fail unemployed workers, says Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti.

“We know that only 37.9% of unemployed Canadians actually qualify for Employment Insurance,” Georgetti says. “That means either there are roadblocks put in the way of people receiving benefits from an insurance program that they paid into, or they have been out of work for so long that they have used up their  benefits.”

Georgetti was commenting on the release by Statistics Canada of its Labour Force Survey for December 2012. There were 1,357,200 unemployed Canadians in November and the unemployment rate was 7.1%.  In the 15 to 24 age group, unemployment stood at 14.1% and 47.6% of young workers are employed only part-time.

Georgetti says it is especially galling for the unemployed to be told by the federal government that there are jobs and skills shortages in Canada. “By latest count there are 5.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy. This government and employers should be providing training and apprenticeship programs so that unemployed workers can be better matched to the jobs that are available.”

Georgetti says that any recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09 has been sluggish. “The unemployed and their families are the victims of a financial and employment crisis caused by corporate greed and mismanagement. The CEOs continue to get their fat pay packages while ordinary workers, their families and communities live with the consequences.”

Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Angella MacEwen

There were 1,357,200 unemployed Canadians in December 2012. The unemployment rate was 7.1%, the lowest in 4 years, but still far above the pre-recession rate of 6.0%. For youth, unemployment stood at 14.1%, and 47.6% were employed only part-time. The real unemployment rate for youth in 2012 was 19.8%, up slightly from 2011 when it was 19.7%.

This is the second month of increasing job numbers, led almost entirely by gains in the private sector. Since 2008 the Canadian economy has added 376,800 jobs, but 64% of these jobs have been temporary. In December, 2012, 25% of the job gains were in contract or term employment. Because of this, more workers are finding that they don’t have access to Employment Insurance when their term is up and they are unable to find continuing employment. Changes to EI surrounding suitable work, which come into effect this weekend, will make this situation worse, as workers are forced to take poor quality jobs rather than being afforded the time to find a better match for their skills.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca  Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour

Contacts:  Angella MacEwen, CLC Senior Economist, 613-526-7412

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