CUPE Ontario is calling on the provincial government to ask employers to keep workers on the payroll over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and, where that is not possible, to assist employers with an Employment Insurance top up.

“We look forward to learning the details of emergency legislation expected later today,” Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer said, “but the reality of widespread layoffs and income loss is so great, we must ask the province to take this extra step now.”

“While we’re pleased that access to EI has improved, laid off workers can still only receive 55% of their income,” said Rennick. “That’s just not enough. Now more than ever, the province needs to create a Supplementary Emergency EI top up fund to assist employers in enhancing EI payments.”

“This is unchartered and difficult waters for everyone but the people being worst hit are the workers,” said Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer, about the widespread layoffs across the country. “But there are some immediate measures the province could take that would help to lessen the stress and anxiety that is gripping families all across the province.”

The Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) is a measure that can be established by an employer to top up employees’ EI benefits during a period of unemployment, due to a temporary layoff. With this fund, workers eligible for EI can expect benefits approaching 100% of their income.

“The Ontario government could make this happen today. The people of Ontario are depending on this government for immediate support to protect the financial security of Ontarians,” said Rennick, about the plan which does not require a vote in Queen’s Park. “Now is the time to act to defend us.”