Thursday, April 30, 2009

EI needs enhancement amid looming job losses: report

Employment insurance benefits should be boosted as the 387,000 full-time jobs lost by the Canadian economy in the current downturn could be just the tip of the iceberg, an economic research group says in a report released Wednesday.

The Canadian economy was late being hit by the global recession, but the force has been unparalleled since the Second World War, according to the report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Judging from past recessions, more job losses may be on the way," said CCPA senior economist Armine Yalnizyan. "Canada took four years to restore the full-time jobs lost in the 1980s recession and seven years to restore 1990s recession job losses. Recovery could take years."

In the face of mounting job losses, the centre is calling for changes to employment insurance benefits, arguing that a 55 per cent benefit rate is too low for many Canadians.

"This is a critical issue for the most economically vulnerable — low-wage earners, particularly those with dependents," Yalnizyan wrote in the report.

"But it is also an issue for the middle class. Maximum insurable earnings were $42,300 in January 2009, resulting in a maximum weekly benefit of $447. This is less than the maximum benefits of the 1970s, when inflation is taken into account."