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Unions activists across Canada are blitzing Members of Parliament this week demanding action on unemployment insurance.

Through lobby efforts and direct action, the CLC-led campaign is intended to put as much pressure as possible on MP’s, particularly Liberals, to push for changes to the UI legislation. By raising public awareness and sending a clear message to the caucus members of all five parties, labour hopes to make it impossible for Paul Martin to spend the UI surplus on anything other than what it was created for 00620065006eefits for unemployed workers.

To bolster the pressure on Martin, the CLC released a report this past week that demonstrates the sad truth about UI. Entitled Left out in the Cold: the end of UI coverage for Canadian workers, the report uses Statistics Canada figures to show now severe the cuts have been. In Ottawa and Regina, only 19 per cent of the unemployed receive UI; in Winnipeg only 25; in Vancouver, only 26. In Toronto, only 24 per cent of the unemployed receive UI. In Montreal the figure is 33 per cent and in Halifax, 29 per cent. Ten years ago, 80 per cent of the unemployed received benefits.

“Behind these appalling statistics are the stories of thousands of unemployed men and women who are suffering 0061006e0064 the major reason is that changes to unemployment insurance have shut them out,” said CLC President Bob White.

National President Judy Darcy condemned the cash grab by the federal Liberal government. “Workers paid UI premiums in good faith and now Martin has diverted those funds to cook his books,” said Darcy. “It may be legal but it’s immoral. It’s pregnant women and part-time and seasonal workers who’ve been cut off, even though in many cases they’ve paid insurance premiums for years.”

The cuts to UI have been a major concern for CUPE members across the country and the National Executive Board has encouraged strong action by the CLC and within CUPE to press for changes to extend coverage and improve benefits.

You can get involved

On Friday 5 February, visits are being planned to the offices of key MPs. For further information and to lend your support, contact the CLC Regional Office for your area.

Atlantic Region

Linda Gallant(506) 858-9350

Ontario Region

Winnie Ng(416) 441-3710

Prairie Region

Rick Byrne(306) 525-6137

Pacific Region

David Rice(604) 430-6766

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