STATEMENT: CEIU joining the call for immediate income support for workers – COVID-19

The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) is joining other Canadian unions to call on the federal government and the provincial governments to offer immediate supports to all workers who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI).


We applaud the federal government’s recognition that Indigenous communities are more vulnerable to the spread of transmissible infections and that they may have less resources available to fight the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Therefore we call on the governments to take immediate action in line with this to ensure that Indigenous communities are not unfairly disadvantages and that they have every and all available resources within their communities to cope with this pandemic.

In light of the sweeping public health measures advising against attending workplaces and public places, we call on the governments to implement the following measures for all workers who are unable to work due to the pandemic, and who have lost their income as a result:

  • Increase EI support to at least 80% of their salary for those who qualify;
  • Implement an immediate emergency benefit of at least 300$ per week for anyone who does not qualify for EI;
  • Make EI supports available immediately so that claimants receive funds without delay.

In addition to these measures, we also call on the governments to implement measures to protect those workers who are unable to work remotely, or who work on the front lines and/or who are delivering essential services to Canadians. We implore the governments to take actions to protect all workers, their families and by extension, the general public. These measures should include but not be limited to:

  • Allowing remote, flexible and home-based work so as to cease all unnecessary travel;
  • Postponing unnecessary meetings and events
  • Providing a minimum of 14 days of paid sick leave under short-term disability and sick leave plans or by any available means, to cover any isolation period;
  • Ceasing all demands for medical documentation to justify sick leave;
  • Prohibiting coronavirus testing as a condition of continued employment;
  • Working with health and safety committees and unions to provide prompt and accurate information about accessing benefits and supports available to them;
  • Working with Service Canada to take full advantage of the improved EI Work-Sharing Program to minimize layoffs.
  • Providing compassionate care and bereavement leave support to employees, as well as mental health counselling and support.

As the number of cases escalates in Canada and around the world, the labour union is continuing to work in solidarity to protect the rights of all workers, their families and communities. “As things evolve rapidly, we are continuing to work around the clock to protect our members’ rights, and by extension the health and safety of all,” said Eddy Bourque, National President of CEIU. “We will continue to do everything within our power to curb the spread of COVID-19 and address the economic impacts of this pandemic.”

Knowing that many of the most vulnerable people in our communities may be affected for weeks and months ahead, our thoughts are with all front-line workers, vulnerable members of the community and Indigenous and Northern communities. With them in mind, we continue to demand that our governments immediately take any and every available precaution to protect workers from this pandemic and mitigate the economic ramifications.