Adjustments to Employment Insurance Qualifications Will Worsen Affordability Crisis for Newfoundland and Labrador Workers

September 12, 2023

St. John’s, NL – The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour (NLFL) is calling on the federal government to take immediate action to provide support to workers in Newfoundland and Labrador who will be impacted by changes to Employment Insurance qualifications.

“The affordability crisis means that programs like Employment Insurance are more critical than ever.  Recent changes to unemployment rates will result in greater hurdles for workers to qualify for benefits this year,” said Jessica McCormick, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.  “Canada’s inadequate EI system continues to fail precariously employed workers, especially those working in Newfoundland and Labrador’s seasonal fishery.”

Since 2019, the federal government has promised to improve and modernize Canada’s EI system so that it works for workers.  Despite public consultations and continued calls for change, workers are still left waiting for an overhaul to our failing EI system.

“Only two in five unemployed people have access to EI.  Without urgent action to support seasonal workers in this province, nearly 20,000 workers in rural communities will face further economic hardship,” continued McCormick.

Workers urge the government to help those who stand to lose their jobs in the event of a recession, and permanently strengthen our outdated EI system to support workers who are falling through the cracks.  In addition to temporary measures that will support seasonal fisheries workers in crisis, the NLFL is calling for:

  • A 360-hour or 12-week qualifying rule with 50 weeks of income support;
  • An end to harsh disqualification rules;
  • Ensure migrant workers have access to EI;
  • End misclassification, a practice where employers falsely label their employees as self-employed independent contractors to avoid paying their fair share of EI and CPP;
  • Improve the weekly benefit rate and include a guaranteed weekly minimum;
  • Fund a new, annual federal government contribution to EI to help pay for improvements; and
  • Ensure EI acts as an effective economic stabilizer in times of crisis.

Newfoundland and Labrador workers demand better.  Government must act swiftly to strengthen our EI system so that the program is there for the people who need support.

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