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Federal Government’s Response for Workers to COVID-19 Is Woefully Insufficient: Steelworkers Union

The United Steelworkers union is calling for the federal government’s regulations and soon-to-come legislation to be more serious by an order of magnitude. The measures announced on March 18 and the response to date towards workers, jobs and incomes in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis, has been dangerously inadequate.

"After decades of cuts, Canada’s social safety net and workers’ personal finances are wholly unprepared for the situation," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

"New actions are needed to get significantly more supports to workers, and they need to get to people much faster than currently planned," Neumann said.

Here are a number of main measures needed now. A fuller list can be found at www.usw.ca/covid19.

A central action that is required immediately is an increase to the employee wage subsidy in keeping with countries that have taken action, such as the 80% level adopted by the Conservative U.K. government. Our subsidy should be no less with a maximum monthly payment over the median Canadian income.

Employment Insurance (EI) needs to be dramatically enhanced. The replacement rate should increase to at least 60% of wages (to a maximum of $625 a week) while lowering the eligibility threshold to 325 hours and increasing the benefit floor to $300 a week.

A child benefit increase and immediate double payment will help out low- and middle-income families with immediate needs.

Late payments to Canada Student Loans should not receive penalty or additional interest.

Emergency and front-line workers need to be particularly supported. A top-up ‘battle pay’ should be mandated and a full safety plan should be required from any business that is still in operation.

"Strong and decisive action is what Canadians, and Canadian jobs, require. It’s time to act more decisively than has been the case so far," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200323005706/en/

Contacts

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, bgallagher@usw.ca, 416-544-5966, 415-434-2221