'It is ludicrous that the ministers are denying hundreds of thousands of workers additional income supports'
Unifor is calling for the federal government to allow workers receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to receive the Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) they would be entitled to under normal layoff circumstances outside of the pandemic.
The union has negotiated SUB plans for about 50,000 of its members in multiple sectors, including auto, rail, steel, aerospace, public service and health care, it says. 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 workers, says Unifor, which represents roughly 315,000 workers across Canada.
"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," says 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 to $600 per week, that employers are ready, willing and able to pay.”
The union previously send a letter on April 15 requesting that Qualtrough ask the federal government to close the gap. The union also launched a national petition to close the loophole that, it says, “unfairly denies workers SUB payments, won at the bargaining table, that they would normally receive when laid off.”
In mid-April, the federal government announced it was expanding the CERB to cover more Canadian workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government also recently extended the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020.