OTTAWA – Today, New Democrats joined labour leaders in calling on the federal government to stop blocking workers from accessing workplace supports during the pandemic.
Many public and private workplaces across Canada have Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plans in place to bolster workers’ Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in challenging times. But, since March 15, any worker applying for EI is instead enrolled in the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and cant access the benefits.By refusing to deem CERB payments EI income for the purpose of SUB plans, the government is blocking these workers from accessing benefits they negotiated as part of their wage package.
“These benefits aren’t a handout. They were negotiated in collective agreements and paid for by workers through their labour,” said NDP Critic for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona). “The government has had the authority to unlock these benefits for weeks and it is unacceptable that workers have been denied access to their SUBs for so long.”
The federal government has heard many times from New Democrats and labour leaders over the last several weeks urging them to act. Despite these calls to action and having the full authority required to make the change, the Trudeau Liberals have yet to release these benefits.
“Times are tough and the clock is ticking. This money can go a long way right now,” said NDP Critic for Labour Scott Duvall (Hamilton-Mountain). “Every day that goes by, is another day that this government is denying workers the benefits they worked and bargained for to support themselves and their families in difficult times.”