CUPE’s National President Mark Hancock has written to the leaders of the four caucuses in Canada’s Senate, voicing CUPE’s strong support for Bill S-244. The bill, sponsored by Senator Diane Bellemare, would create a permanent Employment Insurance Council and a stronger voice for workers in how EI is managed in Canada. The advisory council would consist of 12 members: five representing unions and five representing employers, to be chaired by Canada’s two existing EI Commissioners.

With a rapidly shifting economic landscape, Hancock says workers need a meaningful and permanent role in shaping the EI program in Canada to address the challenges they face in the wake of the pandemic and with a much-needed green transition on the horizon.

“CUPE firmly believes that the EI Council will facilitate effective coordination and advocacy for skills training, vocational education, apprenticeships, and continuous learning,” wrote Hancock. “Given Canada’s ambitious transition towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and the rapidly evolving digital landscape, this becomes even more imperative.”

CUPE says the bill lays the foundation for an enduring and constructive framework for unions, employers, and government.

“A permanent EI Council goes beyond the current practice of consultation and allows more in-depth information exchanges and negotiations between the three parties,” Hancock noted. “Having all three parties participate in ongoing work on issues of common interest fosters the creation of constructive and long-lasting solutions that better serve all our interests.”

Hancock also noted the strong consensus around Bill S-244 among labour and employer groups, as well as the EI commissioners for both workers and for employers, and urged all Senators to pass the bill swiftly.

Read the full letter here.