Nothing for the unemployed in 1999 federal budget

Canadian workers are still “Left out in the Cold” In his budget speech earlier this week, federal Finance Minister Paul Martin ignored the plight of unemployed Canadians and did nothing to improve UI coverage and benefits or end the government’s theft of the fund’s $7 billion surplus. Martin’s inaction makes the Canadian Labour Congress’ national campaign to pressure Chretien’s Liberals to improve the unemployment insurance system all the more important. A key piece of that on-going, national campaign, is “Left out in the Cold: the end of UI coverage for Canadian workers”, a report commissioned by the CLC that details the collapse of the unemployment insurance plan, one of the pillars of Canada’s social safety net. Based on Statistics Canada figures, “Left out in the Cold” graphically details how changes to UI are affecting coverage of the unemployed across the country. It provides data on the percentage of unemployed who receive UI and breaks the data down by city, UI region, and federal riding. A table of the data from B.C. federal ridings accompanies this newsletter. Nationally, only 36 per cent of the unemployed qualify for benefits under current rules—less than half of those who qualified in 1989. In Vancouver, only 26 per cent now qualify. Many students’, women’s, community and church organizations, anti-poverty groups, unions and other social justice-seeking proponents are pressing the federal government to use the UI surplus to improve benefits and coverage of the unemployed. The CLC is pushing for coverage for at least 70 per cent of unemployed workers and for claimants to receive at least 60 per cent of their weekly pay. For more information about the report and the campaign, contact the CLC’s Pacific Region office at phone: (604) 430- 6766, or check out the Congress web site at: www.clc-ctc.ca.