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Think-tank says Government needs to extend E.I. benefits

The government needs to extend E.I. benefits by at least another 26 weeks as very few Canadians are managing to find jobs in the current economic climate before their payments run out, an economic think tank said in a report.

Government changes to employment insurance so far have been minor and have done little to help the jobless. More needs to be done in the upcoming budget, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said.

Unemployed Canadians not receiving benefits jumped from 650,760 in October 2008 to 777,400 in October 2009, according to the report.

“Even before the recession, more than one in four E.I. claimants exhausted benefits before finding a new job,” Canadian Labour Congress Chief Economist Andrew Jackson said.

“It is estimated that as many as 500,000 Canadians who initiated an E.I. claim in 2009 will exhaust their benefits because new jobs remain very difficult to find.”

Canada’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.5% in December and is not expected to begin to dip significantly below that level until the end of this year, economists say.






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