OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 17, 2012) - New figures released today about the number of unemployed workers who qualify for help from the federal government's Employment Insurance program suggests that the post-recession jobs recovery is precarious at best.

In December 2011, just 39% of unemployed workers were collecting regular EI benefits, according to today's release of numbers from Statistics Canada. That's well below the 50% coverage rate in 2009 and much lower than the proportion of the unemployed who were able to access benefits before the recession. All this while the number of people looking for work was on the rise - there were 1.4 million unemployed workers in December, up 53,800 from the post-recession low in September, but the number of unemployed collecting EI benefits fell over the same period.

"This shows that our Employment Insurance system is failing people when they need it most. It's leaving too many people out in the cold at a time when it should be helping them get back to work," says Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Georgetti says the reason behind the falling number of unemployed receiving EI benefits demands the government's attention. "It's another sign of Canada's eroding middle class. The full-time, family-supporting jobs that the EI program is designed to support are being replaced with jobs of lesser quality, often with lower pay and few, if any, benefits. People who lost their jobs during the recession have exhausted their benefits and gone back to work only to find temporary or part-time jobs that don't provide the hours needed to qualify for EI benefits the next time they find themselves out of work".

Georgetti says the upcoming federal budget must focus on jobs and the reality that working people are dealing with today.

"We need a jobs strategy now to create decent full-time jobs for Canadians. And we need to improve access to EI benefits by lowering the entrance requirement and extending benefits, because it is clear people are experiencing longer periods of unemployment than in previous recessions," he says.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Website: Follow us on Twitter: @CanadianLabour

Contact Information:

Jeff Atkinson
CLC Communications