April 9 Message

Dear 391 family,

Please join me at 5:05pm today, Thursday April 9 on Zoom – please see your email for the link. I’ll provide an update on what we’ve been working on in the past week for you, and some plans moving forward. The chat function will be on and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Please plan for about 30 minutes.

We’ve had many questions this week about CERB and EI. I cannot stress enough that you will have to connect with a Service Canada representative to get personalized advice – each individual has variables to be assessed and it is very important that you speak with someone who is able to accurately assess where you fit in the current framework of supports. The union and the employer recognize that there are gaps in the CERB support – especially for folks who may only have a handful of shifts booked between now and the end of the pay protection period. The federal government had not given any indication of CERB coming at the time of negotiating the agreement. It was not something we were able to anticipate and conversations continue in terms of how to best support you given the current parameters of programs available.

The federal government has indicated that they are reviewing the thresholds and guidelines for accessing CERB with a focus on those who have lost significant but not all income. We are hopeful that we will hear adjustments to the eligibility that will be of help to many members. Additionally, it is our understanding that EI is still an option for those earning reduced income. Again, please connect with Service Canada for the best advice for your situation.

At this point, we are of the position that voluntary layoff is not advisable. This is based on legal advice from CUPE National; the language on the CERB eligibility is clear that “you have not quit your job voluntarily.” We are exploring further to see if there is a way to facilitate earlier access to the supports that would not be in contravention of Service Canada. What we do not want to see is folks accessing funds that are then clawed back later due to questions of eligibility as this would be very challenging for individuals to have to face. We will keep you apprised as we work through this question.

We continue to update our website with links and documents here.

I hope to see many of you this afternoon at 5:05pm. For those not able to join us, please have a safe and peaceful weekend, celebrating and observing this time in whichever manner or tradition serves you best. Just be sure to incorporate physical distancing and hand-washing into your plans.

Yours in solidarity,