USW COVID-19 Demands to Federal and Provincial Governments

The United Steelworkers (USW) union calls on federal, provincial and territorial governments to immediately enact the following reforms to support workers during these uncertain times.

For the Federal Government:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  1. Expand eligibility to include the long-term unemployed, those who were forced to leave work because of COVID-19 and those who do not meet the income threshold.
  2. Allow Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plans.
  3. Co-ordinate with the provinces to ensure that social assistance payments are not clawed back as a result of the CERB.
  4. Increase the permittable income threshold.
  5. Top-up all existing Employment Insurance (EI) recipients to $500/week
  6. Extend the CERB benefit period without reducing eligibility for future EI benefits. 
  7. Ensure co-ordination with other EI-based benefits, such as maternity and parental leave to ensure continued eligibility and no reduction of benefits due to COVID-19-related layoff or loss of income.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The CEWS must be used to protect jobs and wages and benefit workers. Business must be required to maintain employment, payroll or wage levels and any wage subsidy must meet the following conditions:

  1. Mandate employer top-up of remaining 25%.
  2. No reduction in pay, benefits or pension contributions.
  3. Employees must have access to information about CEWS funds received by employer.
  4. Use of tax havens renders applicants ineligible. 
  5. No further layoffs or firings, nor outsourcing or offshoring.
  6. No reopening of a collective agreement if one is in existence.
  7. No increases to CEO or management compensation.
  8. No dividend payments for at least a year after receiving the CEWS.
  9. Funds intended for a wage subsidy shall not be used for any form of debt repayment.

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.

See also the USW media release (5 May 2020): Emergency Response Must Lead to Long-Term Reform – USW National Director Ken Neumann’s presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.

All Provincial and Territorial Governments:

Provide a wage supplement for all essential workers in every jurisdiction (including security guards).

Respect workers’ right to refuse unsafe work.

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.

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

Require that employers provide necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all essential workers.

Continue on-site Ministry of Labour workplace inspections.

Provide subsidized child care for all essential-service workers.

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Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Shannon Devine
416-544-5946 or

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy

Mailing Address

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