SK Unemployment Up 49%; Extended EI and Fair Trade Needed

May 6th, 2016

Regina–Lewvan MP Erin Weir will be up in today’s Question Period (which starts at 9am SK time) pushing the federal government to include Regina and Southern Saskatchewan in its extension of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

Statistics Canada reported today that, over the past year, the number of unemployed Saskatchewan workers surged by 49 per cent – by far the largest increase of any province. Specifically, the number of jobless workers in our province jumped from 28,500 in April 2015 to 42,400 in April 2016 (raw figures unadjusted for seasonality).

“These figures bolster the case for extending EI benefits across our province. The Liberal budget extended EI benefits for some regions hit by the drop in oil prices, but inexplicably left out Regina and Southern Saskatchewan,” said Weir. “Since budget day, the NDP has been advocating to include all of Saskatchewan. More recently, even the Conservatives who cut EI have joined our fight for fairness.”

Today’s unemployment figures do not include the layoffs announced earlier this week at Regina’s Evraz steel mill. The company’s North American CEO said, “Evraz and other steel operations continue to be impacted by the flood of unfairly traded line pipe imports” (Leader-Post, May 3, 2016, page A1).

In particular, China has undercut Canadian steelmakers by violating internationally-recognized labour and environmental standards. The former Conservative government allowed the deluge of underpriced Chinese steel and pipe into the Canadian market.

“In the United States, Steelworkers can initiate and participate in anti-dumping cases,” added Weir. “The NDP is asking the federal government to similarly give Canadian workers and employee organizations standing at the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.”