The Alberta Federation of Labour's Gil McGowan is calling on the federal government to extend EI coverage to all those affected by floods in Southern Alberta.
Only about 22% of unemployed Albertans are eligible for EI and the waiting period is 2 weeks.
McGowan is asking Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley to undertake a number of changes immediately including waiving all the waiting periods for those who qualify for benefits.
McGowan is also asking that EI benefits to small business owners affected by the flood be extended. He says many of the establishments under water in Calgary and surrounding communities, including High River, are in fact small businesses, therefore a special benefits class for small business owners whose businesses are not operational for up to four weeks should be created and all waiting periods should be waived.
McGowan says EI coverage to workers on commission and others, such as those who work for tips, who rarely qualify for EI, should be extended. Many of the workers affected by the floods are employed by small business and work on commission or for tips.
"The economic impact of this flood will be felt across Canada. The federal government should ensure no workers or small business owners are left out of reconstruction efforts," says McGowan.
"Almost all of Alberta's first responders are unions members and they're working hard in health care and emergency services delivery, remediation and restoration to help deal with the aftermath of the flood," says McGowan.
"We're hoping the federal government recognizes that not all workers have access to EI benefits. Extending them in these circumstances is the right thing to do for the people of Southern Alberta."
Okotos online, Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Byline: Dan Bascombe