EI fairness long overdue (Guest commentary)

Women particularly vulnerable under current scheme
By Winnie Ng
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/15/2009

What’s a mother to do? Currently, the rules for employment insurance prevent mothers who have used the full amount of “special” maternity and parental benefits from accessing “regular” benefits if they lose their jobs. In too many cases, that is happening in this economic downturn.

At the end of April, NDP MP Chris Charlton introduced a private member’s bill that would remove the combined 50-week cap entirely. Family income-earners would then be able to rely on maternity, parental, illness and compassionate care leave benefits without worrying that, if they lose their jobs, they will lose their EI.

The Good Jobs for All Coalition — an alliance of 38 community, labour, environmentalist and student groups representing people across the Greater Toronto Area — is urging all members of Parliament to unite to increase the maximum number of weeks in a benefit period when regular and special benefits are combined, by passing Bill C-378. Though the whole EI program needs to be fixed, adoption of this bill would end a rule that is particularly discriminatory towards women and causes children to suffer when parents don’t quality for EI.