As Canada’s Labour Market Ministers meet in Quebec City, this week the Canadian Union of Public Employees Maritimes divisions called on them to improve the transparency and accountability at all levels of Employment Insurance decision-making.

In a statement released today, CUPE’s New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia Presidents said:

The Forum of Labour Market Ministers will meet behind closed doors this week to negotiate new Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs), federal-provincial funding arrangements which support a range of programs critical to helping unemployed and under-employed workers find work.

LMDA programs include skills-training, literacy programs, job search assistance, and counselling.

Unfortunately, Canadians have no idea what the federal government is tabling at these meetings and no idea how provincial governments are responding, because these important negotiations are being held secretly.

At another level of the Employment Insurance system, we are concerned that decisions by the EI Commission are similarly held in secret. The EI Commission reviews and approves policies related to EI program administration and delivery; and makes regulations, with the approval of the Governor in Council, on a majority votes from the government, labour, and business commissioners.

The EI Commission does not publish minutes of its meetings; does not give reasons for its decisions; and does not tell the public how each of the three Commissioners voted. In other words, two people have all of the decision-making about how EI is managed, without any accountability whatsoever for their actions.

We met last week with EI Labour Commissioner Mary-Lou Donnelly and were shocked to learn that she is forbidden from sharing details of decisions and votes with us. CUPE intends to pursue this matter with the Information Commissioner and into the next Federal election.

In Atlantic Canada, EI is an important program for our many seasonal workers. Leaving these decisions to a handful of people acting in secret goes against basic democratic principles.

It’s time to open up EI’s decision-making processes!

For information, contact:

Danny Cavanagh
President of CUPE Nova Scotia

Daniel Légère
President of CUPE New Brunswick

Lori MacKay
President of CUPE Prince Edward Island