UI benefits to be cut

Year Published:  1989  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX3643

Abstract:  The federal government is implementing a major overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system. The changes will cut benefits being paid to unemployed workers. The money being cut is to be used to pay for retraining programs, leading Employment and Immigration Minister Barbara McDougall to deny that Unemployment Insurance was being cut. Critics pointed out, however, that using the funds to pay for a separate program doesn't change the fact that many people will be facing sharp reductions in what they receive. The changes double the number of weeks required to qualify for UI, meaning that some people would be unable to collect benefits at all. Benefits are also to be slashed from 60% to 50%, and the maximum number of weeks that a person can collect UI is to be reduced from 50 to 35. The changes will place a greater burden on provincial and municipal social assistance budgets, because more people will be forced to turn to welfare and to food banks to survive. Low-income workers will be disproportionately affected by the cutbacks: 80 per cent of those affected will have incomes under $25,000 a year. The Atlantic provinces will be especially hard hit; it is estimated that 12.1 per cent of benefit losses will be in the Atlantic region, which has only 7.7 per cent of Canada's work.
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