Annual EI/CPP Conference Rejects EI Changes

May 30, 2012, 12:00 PM EST

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Delegates at this year's EI/CPP Conference delved into EI and CPPs current shortfalls, the conservative government's omnibus budget bill, proposed changes and the implications for workers across the country. The conference took place at the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario May 25-27 with approximately 80 delegates from across the country. 

During the weekend, guest speakers added more to the discussion. NDP MP Malcolm Allen revealed the inside political scoop about the Harper government's deceptive maneuvering and use of the budget to drive down wages. CAW Economist Jim Stanford debunked the economic myths the Conservative Party uses to justify its actions. Ken Lewenza greeted the delegates and spoke about the labour market, the pain of job loss and plant closures, the Harper government's multiple attacks on working people and the challenges facing unions today.

Retired CAW National Representative Laurell Ritchie, National Co-ordinator Dean Lindsay and CAW Council EI/CPP Committee Chairperson Dan Borthwick (CAW Local 88 President) enlightened the delegates about the proposed changes to EI, CPP and OAS and the replacing of the Appeals Board with the Social Security Tribunal. Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President Lana Payne focused on Harper attack on income security and labour market policies of catering to a cheap-wage dependency.

The delegates dissected the problems with EI and CPP today as well as the problems to be faced as the budgetary changes become reality. Delegates concluded that the budget has not resolved the current EI problems such as inadequate benefit rates, difficulty in qualifying, and the duration of benefits. Consensus was that any job is not a good job. In fact, delegates spoke about how bad jobs offer unsafe work environments, low wages, too few hours, insecurity and are called precarious work. Unemployed workers do not need to be categorized and mandated to take a job - they only need to be offered a "good job." 

Everyone agreed they do not want to work until age 67. Unfortunately the question will be "can I afford not to?"

The conference concluded with signed letters to Stephen Harper calling on his "government to withdraw the EI and Social Security Tribunal provisions of Bill C-38 and to ensure any future proposals are subject to democratic debate in Parliament." Delegates are continuing the push back through letters to the editor and their Members of Parliament.

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