In Harperland, the war on workers continues. Carol Goar reports that, this past Sunday, new EI eligibility rules went into effect:
Until Sunday anyone living in a region with an unemployment rate above 8 per cent was eligible. Now the benchmark is a 13.1-per-cent jobless rate. Only a handful of regions qualify: parts of Newfoundland-Labrador, eastern Nova Scotia, Gaspésie, Restigouche, northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Under the old rules, laid-off workers in most regions could use their best 14 weeks of earnings when submitting their claim. This allowed them to omit weeks when the plant was idle or their hours were sporadic.
Under the new system, only a tiny minority of workers can use this device. The rest must use the number of weeks Ottawa sets. In Windsor, for instance, it is 18. In Oshawa, it is 19. In Toronto it’s 20. The larger the number is, the harder it is to filter out temporary layoffs and lean weeks.
The losers will be call centre workers and hotel/hospitality workers and factory workers with unpredictable, unsteady hours. The winners are employers and the government (which raised EI premiums despite reducing benefits).
The EI contribution rates for workers went up in the 2012 budget. The rate for employers stayed the same. Now those who have contributed more get less. The government has shifted the temporary worker program to the unquestionable advantage of business. It has now done the same for Employment Insurance.
How long will Canadians tolerate this kind of egregious injustice?