November 21st, 2022
NDP’s Singh vows to fix social safety net at B.C. Federation of Labour Convention
VANCOUVER — Jagmeet Singh, the Leader of Canada’s New Democrats, vowed Monday to reconstruct Canada’s social safety net, including an overhaul of Employment Insurance (EI).
Speaking to thousands of working people at the British Columbia Federation of Labour Convention, Singh made the commitment to introduce a new EI system with a low, universal qualifying-hours threshold, a minimum benefit amount and a higher income replacement rate. Singh’s new system will also include a benefit for self-employed Canadians.
“When I’m prime minister, I’ll fight for workers — not the powerful. I’ll rebuild Canada’s social safety net so that no family has to live in fear of going hungry or losing their home because of a layoff,” said Singh.
While Justin Trudeau is refusing to form EI, Pierre Poilievre is threatening to cut EI even deeper, letting billionaire CEOs off the hook for contributing their fair share.
“We are heading towards a recession with an EI system that is the equivalent of what it was when Pierre Poilievre was the minister,” said Singh. “Can you imagine being laid off, only to find out that EI isn’t going to help you make it through?
“Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand how much everyday Canadians count on EI to be there for them in an emergency, so we can’t count on him to fix it. But it’ll be much worse if Pierre Poilievre and the corporate CEO’s he’s working for get the chance to slash EI even more.”
Only 40 per cent of unemployed workers are eligible for EI, and that number dropped to just 28 per cent for workers that were earning $15 or less per hour in 2017, according to research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Singh said a more robust EI system — more people qualifying and receiving fairer rates — is the right thing to do for people and families, but it will also keep unemployed workers participating in the economy, and relieve pressure on the housing crisis, health care and other social services.
In a speech focused on respect for workers, Singh also talked about corporate profits driving inflation. Despite doing everything right, Singh said, families are falling behind. In response, Singh laid out a swath of proposals to respect and support workers including better wages, strong pensions and making it easier to form a union with changes like union certification moving online.