USW COVID-19 Demands to Federal and Provincial Governments

The United Steelworkers union calls on the federal and provincial governments to immediately enact the following reforms to support workers and retirees during these uncertain times.

Federal Government

An appropriate wage subsidy level similar to that enacted by Germany, Denmark and the U.K. is necessary. The U.K.’s Conservative government passed an 80% rate with a maximum of $4,200 per month (£2,500), just above the median income in the U.K. Our Liberal government should enact a similar amount here in Canada.

Necessary changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that will make it more accessible and provide a higher income for those who need it most.

  • Lower eligibility threshold to 325 hours for regular and special benefits.
  • Introduce a benefit floor of $300/week for low-income claimants.
  • Re-impose the replacement rate of 60% (max $625/week).
  • Waive the one-week waiting period for regular benefits
  • Suspend the job search requirement for EI claimants and the expiry of benefits until June 1.

Legislate 14 paid emergency-leave days, with job-protected leave for the entire pandemic period for all workers in federally regulated sectors and call on all provinces and territories to do the same.

Regulatory changes to permanently waive sick-note requirements at work for all workers in federally regulated sectors.

Banks, landlords, credit card companies and financial institutions must be instructed to extend and relax mortgage, rent and bill payment requirements, student loans, loan servicing obligations and other responsibilities facing consumers and households.

Increase the child-care benefit for low and middle-income families.

Amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) to:

  • Bring any pension plan fund to 100% before paying other creditors, including secured creditors, amounts owed to them.
  • Prevent a company from stopping payment of any health and welfare benefits to retirees during any proceeding under the CCAA or BIA.
  • Ensure that amounts required to indemnify beneficiaries of employer-provided health and welfare plans, termination pay, and severance pay are preferred claims under the BIA and CCAA.


All Provincial and Territorial Governments:

Legislate 14 paid emergency-leave days, with job-protected leave for the entire pandemic period for all workers in provincially-regulated sectors.

Regulatory changes to permanently waive the requirement for medical certificates in event of any sickness.

Instruct landlords to immediately relax rent payments.

Create an emergency fund for health-care workers who get sick because of contracting COVID-19 at work or are quarantined as a result of their work.

Mandate extra ‘hazard pay’ for health-care and other front-line workers whose work puts them at an increased risk during the pandemic period.

Provide subsidized child care for all essential-service workers.

Require businesses and organizations that are still running to implement a plan to limit the risk of transmission in the workplace.

Press Inquiries

Thank You

Thank you for contacting us. We will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Bob Gallagher
416-544-5966 or

Communications Department:
Nicole Desnoyers

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7