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MEDIA RELEASE: Employment Insurance Rates Change for Seasonal Workers While Feds Fail to React, Again

June 11, 2024

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Employment rates have increased in Newfoundland and Labrador, meaning seasonal workers once again require additional hours and weeks of work to ensure a top employment insurance claim. The change comes again this year despite months of the FFAW campaigning throughout 2023 and 2024 for the federal government to protect affected seasonal workers.

“We have been told, point blank, that the employment insurance will not be modernized until after the next federal election, meaning our federal Liberal leaders are holding the entire seasonal workforce hostage in the name of votes,” explains FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “The groundwork has already been done for changes to start being implemented, but our federal government has refused to make any meaningful changes to the severely antiquated system,” Pretty says.

Last year, the change of rates near the end of the fishing season meant thousands no longer qualified for top claims, and the majority of seasonal workers were out of income for weeks before the fishery started in 2024.

“The Employment Insurance system is in place to protect workers of all kinds, and seasonal workers are an important part of the Canadian economy,” says Doretta Strickland, FFAW-Unifor Vice President of the Industrial Retail Offshore Sector. “Our federal government has failed to protect those who rely on seasonal work, they’ve failed to make the appropriate changes, and we are once again facing an economic crisis,” Strickland says.

Unifor Canada has launched a petition calling for a fix to the employment insurance system.

“FFAW-Unifor is encouraging all members and concerned citizens to sign the petition and send a strong message to the Liberal Government that these modernizations cannot wait for another election cycle,” says Pretty.

“We’ll be working on our end to do what we can to protect affected workers, and a strong message will need to be sent to ensure our members are heard loud and clear,” Pretty concludes.