‘It is ludicrous that the ministers are denying hundreds of thousands of workers additional income supports that employers are ready, willing and able to pay’
Unifor reiterated its call for the federal government to grant workers receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to receive the Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) they would be entitled to under normal layoff circumstances.
"The CERB has flaws that need fixing. At the top of that list is for Ministers [Bill] Morneau and [Carla] Qualtrough to allow employer-paid, and Service Canada registered Supplemental Unemployment Benefits alongside CERB," said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. "It is ludicrous that the ministers are denying hundreds of thousands of workers additional income supports, some as much as $500-600 per week, that employers are ready, willing and able to pay.”
Unifor noted that it has negotiated SUB plans for approximately 50,000 of its members in multiple sectors, including auto, rail, steel, aerospace, public service and health care. In the health care industry, the SUB plans are designed to top up EI sick leave benefits for frontline workers in long-term care homes.
Major companies, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, have also appealed to the government to allow SUB payments to their workers, said the Union.
On April 15, Unifor sent a letter to Qualtrough to ask the federal government to close the gap in CERB and modify regulations to allow workers to collect both the CERB and SUB.
The union also launched a national petition to close the loophole that “unfairly denies workers SUB payments, won at the bargaining table, that they would normally receive when laid off.”
"Fixing this will cost our public purse precisely nothing. Yet, the answer has consistently been no," said Dias. "It takes simple regulatory fix that Unifor proposed more than a month ago."
Late last month, Yukon said it is implementing a law to ensure that its residents who will be receiving the CERB will not experience a reduction in their Social Assistance benefits.
The Civil Emergency Measures Act will fully exempt CERB payments from the unearned income category from April to June 2020. Currently, CERB would qualify as unearned income and result in a reduction in the total amount of social assistance benefits under the province’s Social Assistance Regulation.