Fourth wave means urgent need to extend emergency help for workers

October 7, 2021

Emergency benefits due to expire for workers in next two weeks

OTTAWA—With the fourth wave raging in many communities and just two weeks before emergency benefits are cut, Canada’s unions are drawing attention to the urgent need to extend emergency benefits for hundreds of thousands of everyday people still relying on these programs.

“We are seeing an uneven jobs recovery and there’s still a long way to go before our communities are back on track. The prime minster said he would have workers’ backs,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Now, with Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) about to expire, and so many still without access to decent work, the government must live up to its promises and immediately extend this vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of workers.”

Bruske said Canada’s unions are engaging the new government to make sure everyday people, not business interests, are at the centre of pandemic recovery plans. This includes raising the minimum wage; fair scheduling laws; increasing and fixing EI and paid sick leave; opening employment standards to gig economy workers; outlawing pay discrimination against part-time employees; and strengthening workers’ voices by providing a path to unionization.

“It’s wrong to blame emergency help for trouble finding workers. With low wages and poor working conditions, punishing those left in the labour force isn’t going to fix chronic labour shortages. The solution is better jobs, real benefits and fairer wages,” said Bruske. “Benefits must be extended until the crisis is over. And by then, Parliament must pass new legislation to permanently fix the cracks in our EI system.”

“The same business owners that are calling for an end to support for workers are still asking for government handouts for themselves,” concluded Bruske. “We know it’s workers who drive our communities. We need an equitable, inclusive recovery. Withdrawing supports from individuals would only serve to deepen inequality.”

Learn more about how Canada’s unions are helping to shape the recovery at

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