UFCW Canada and Official Opposition call on government to end "Great Canadian Rip-Off" of SAWP workers
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Ottawa – March 13, 2014 – UFCW Canada, the country's leading and most progressive union, and members of Canada's Official Opposition held a joint press conference in Ottawa today announcing the release of the union's new, ground-breaking research report, "The Great Canadian Rip-Off!"
The 40-page report highlights the injustice of the Harper Government’s decision to curtail seasonal migrant farm workers’ access to EI parental, maternity, and compassionate care benefits – also known as EI special benefits – despite the fact that these workers pay millions in EI premiums every year.
Speaking to the media at the National Press Theatre, UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema said that workers enrolled in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Program (SAWP) are being denied full eligibility for EI special benefits even though SAWP workers and their employers pay an estimated $21.5 million annually in EI premiums and contribute $4.65 billion to the Canadian government and economy each year.
"This report clearly shows that migrant farm workers are being ripped off, and that's why we're calling on the Harper Government to end its EI scam against SAWP workers," said President Meinema.
Joining the union at the conference were Jinny Sims, the Official Opposition Critic for Employment and Social Development, and her Deputy Critic, Sadia Groguhé, who both denounced the Conservatives for singling out SAWP workers by denying them EI special benefits coverage.
"Seasonal agricultural workers make important contributions to the Canadian economy and deserve to be treated fairly," Sims said.
Full copies of the research report, "The Great Canadian Rip-Off! An Economic Case for Restoring Full EI Special Benefits Access to SAWP Workers," can be downloaded from UFCW Canada's website at www.ufcw.ca/ripoff.
UFCW Canada is the country's leading and most progressive union, representing more than 250,000 union members across Canada. As a longtime advocate for farm workers' rights, UFCW Canada represents migrant and domestic agricultural workers at various locations in Quebec and British Columbia. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates ten agricultural worker support centres across the country.