Transitioning from CERB to EI

Hello CUPE members,

You all may know by now that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is coming to an end on October 3rd. If you were receiving this benefit, your last payment should have been paid out already, and your transition to Employment Insurance (EI) is the next step. The new, temporary, version of EI that the government will be providing has made the eligibility requirements more lenient, in respect to the reality of the pandemic and its effect on jobs and the economy.

The new criteria is as follows and will be in effect for one year from September 27, 2020

  1. A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% applies to all regions across Canada starting August 9, 2020
    • If your region’s unemployment rate is higher than 13.1%, we’ll use the higher actual rate to calculate your benefits
  2. You only need 120 insured hours to qualify for benefits because you’ll receive a one-time credit of:
    • 300 insured hours if you’re applying for regular benefits
    • 480 insured hours if you’re applying for sickness, maternity, parental or caregiving benefits
  3. You’ll receive at least $500 per week before taxes, or $300 per week before taxes for extended parental benefits but you could receive more
    • If you’re a fisher, we’ll look at the earnings from your 2018, 2019 and 2020 summer or winter seasons to determine your benefit rate and establish your claim for the same season
  4. If you received the CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended

Your transition from CERB to EI will happen in one of two ways depending on what government agency was providing you with your CERB payments. The following information has been taken directly from the Canadian Government website.

If You Received The CERB Through Service Canada

In most cases, you do not need to apply for EI benefits. After you receive your last CERB payment, continue completing reports. We (Service Canada) will automatically review your file and your Record Of Employment (ROE), then start a claim for EI regular benefits if you qualify.

Please Note: You can view your file, ROE, and claim through your My Service Canada Account (MSCA).

If you don’t qualify for EI, you’ll be notified by mail.

You will need to apply for EI after your CERB ends if:
    •    you have a SIN that starts with a 9
    •    you’re self-employed, or
    •    you declared that you returned to work full-time on your CERB report

If You Received The CERB Through The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

You need to receive all your CERB payments before applying for EI benefits. You can apply after the end of your last CERB eligibility period. Visit EI benefits and leave to determine which benefit is right for your situation and to apply online.
We (Service Canada) recognize that you may experience difficulties applying online as we’re receiving a large volume of applications. If you’re unable to apply online, please try again later.

Once we’ve determined that you’re eligible to receive EI benefits and have completed your first biweekly report, you’ll receive your first payment. This should occur within 28 days of applying. If you apply for regular or sickness benefits, you’ll have to complete reports for as long as you receive benefits to continue getting paid.

Additional Information

If you would like to review any of this information on the Government of Canada website, or inquire about other benefits you may be eligible for, we recommend you visit:

If you were receiving your CERB payments from Service Canada, and would like to contact a CERB agent about the transition to EI, please call 1-833-966-2099.

If you would like to speak to someone at the CUPE 3261 office, please call 416-946-7620, or email your president Allan James at

Concerns raised by Food Service workers

Hello CUPE 3261 members, 

As you know, the University of Toronto has placed calls to both continuing and sessional, Full-Time and Part-Time, members in the Food Services Department; informing them of either their return to work, or the extension of their temporary layoff until December 31, 2020. The Employer has expressed to us that they have every intention to bring those who are temporarily laid off back to work as soon as possible.

In the event that your temporary layoff has been extended, the Employer will have sent you a letter confirming this as well as the subsidies you are eligible for. These subsidies include retaining your health care benefits coverage, to the extent you were enrolled, at no cost to you. It also outlines a weekly supplement of up to $250/week for those who are eligible and receiving either CERB or EI benefits.In the event that you have already been receiving the top-up, please ensure that you inform your Supervisor or Manager that you want to continue receiving the payments from the University of Toronto.

We understand that there has been a rise in anxiety around job security and financial stability with the news of extended temporary layoffs, and that there are concerns about how the Employer is calling members back to work. 

We heard your concerns and began having follow-up meetings and correspondence with both Human Resources and Labour Relations; that correspondence continues even now. These meetings are happening in order to clarify the process by which the Employer is calling back members, and if there are any conflicts with the provisions in our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

There are three things we have to consider when reviewing the Employer’s process of calling members back to work:

The Employer’s Management Rights

 Article 3:01

The Union acknowledges that it is the exclusive function of the Employer to:

  •  a)  maintain order, discipline and efficiency;
  •  b)  hire, discharge, classify, transfer, promote, layoff, suspend or otherwise discipline employees;
  • c)  establish and enforce rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement, governing the conduct of the employee, and
  • d)  generally to manage and operate the University of Toronto.

This means that the Employer is in the sole position to decide when and who will be brought back to work, or laid off, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement provisions that apply to this situation.

The Two(2) Seniority Lists

 Article 16:01

  • (a) An employee will be considered on probation and will not acquire seniority until after they have worked for a total of ninety (90) working days for the Employer, when their seniority shall commence from the date of last hire. For the purposes of vacation requests (Article 18), job postings (Article 26 and Article 27) and layoff and displacement (Article 16), separate seniority lists will be kept for the full-time employees and regular part-time employees.

This means that there are two separate seniority lists; one for Full-Time and Casual employees, and one for Part-Time employees. The employer can choose to bring back either Part-Time or Full-Time works, or a mixture of both. But they will be brought back according to their individual seniority lists. The seniority list of Full-Time members does not affect the seniority list of Part-Time members, and vice versa.

Job Classification

  • The employer is considering members’ job classification when looking at who to call back to work. These classifications include: Cook, Lead Hand, Cafeteria Worker, Driver, etc. When calling back specific members according to job classification, they must go according to seniority for the position.

Out of all three of these factors, the Union has found an issue with two aspects of the call-backs of the Full-Time membersre-assigning the job classification of some of the members getting called back and where their seniority puts them on the list. Members are being brought back and reassigned to a lower classification position with lower wages than their original position. This reassignment also affects those who would normally fill those lower classification positions, but are now on extended temporary layoffs. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Employer should be calling back members under their current/new job classification according to their seniority. For those who are being re-assigned to a lower classification, their seniority date now applies to all those in the same job classification.

The Union has brought this to the attention of Labour Relations, and is currently awaiting a response in order to move forward in correcting this issue.

We thank everyone who has come forward to voice their concerns. If you believe your seniority was not taken into account when the University of Toronto was calling employees back to work, please contact CUPE Local 3261 at:

703 Spadina Avenue
2nd Floor

We will update you as more information becomes available.

In solidarity, 
CUPE 3261 Executive

Tentative Agreement has been ratified

Thank you to all those that came out to our meetings and voted on the tentative agreement for the Full Time and Part Time Bargaining Unit this past Friday. 

The overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of the Tentative Agreement (Memorandum of Settlement). The results are: 

94% YES
6% NO

The Tentative Agreement is now available on the website for your review (under “Resources”). 

The agreement is in effect until June 30th, 2021, at which point we will resume negotiations for a new Collective Agreement. 

Thank you once again,
CUPE 3261 Executive 

“Service workers’ union petitions to stop U of T from outsourcing caretaking services”

Ron Saporta, Chief Operating Officer Property Services and Sustainability claims workers are being contracted out “‘to allow for flexibility as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and to ensure cost-effectiveness.’” “Flexibility” as we already know is just another term to describe employers having more control over workers. “Flexibility” means not worrying about workers reporting issues to a strong union, or having to deal with providing benefits, sick days, or other rights union workers have. And being cost-effective, well, it means exactly that. It means saving money by hiring private companies that pay workers poverty wages with low cleaning standards. 

He goes on to say: “‘We will continue to deliver high quality service, adhering to consistent cleaning protocols across campus and using cleaning products approved for use against COVID-19,’expressed Saporta, also noting that the staff of the external companies is unionized.” 

There are unions that actively represent workers and have historically fought for strong collective agreement rights. That’s what CUPE is. Then there are unions that sign away 10-year agreements, agreeing to provisions favourable to the employer while leaving workers in the dirt. The cleaners on St. George campus deserve strong union protection, and meeting the minimum requirement of having a union, in name only, does not mean workers are being advocated for or adequately represented. We urge the University to show us their collective agreement, and we can see for ourselves what kind of provisions they have. 

U of T made a choice to hire contracted out workers. But they also had a choice to hire CUPE 3261 caretakers. COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic in early March 2020, and the University had ample time to hire more caretakers in anticipation of the September reopening. Instead, they cancelled the contracts of temporary CUPE workers and moved permanent caretakers out of 18 buildings. When faced with operational changes, U of T has the option of hiring “term” CUPE 3261 employees, who can work up to two years and receive many of the same protections as their permanent counterparts. They can also hire “temporary” employees for up to 120 days, whom although are excluded from many benefits of the collective agreement, still have decent wages, strong union representation, and a preference for applying to permanent positions. But if their employment exceeds 120 days, these employees will receive all benefits covered by the collective agreement. 

These options were not considered, and U of T’s irresponsible and shameful decision to privatize cleaning services is a slap in the face for workers already struggling in this difficult COVID-19 economy, and to all community members who want the best health and safety standards on campus. 

We must end contracting out.  Sign and share the petition. 

Voting Locations for September 11th Ratification Vote

Our locations for in-person voting have been confirmed. If you did not register for online voting, you can attend in person. Voting is tomorrow, Friday September 11th. 

The booths will be open: 12PM-2PM, 5PM-7PM, 10PM-12AM

Make sure to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, and bring a piece of ID to confirm your identity.

As a friendly reminder, the vote tomorrow is for Full Time and Part Time members of the main bargaining committee. If you work at 89 chestnut, press/retail, faculty club, or are casual, you are not eligible to vote!  

St. George

  • Outside of Sidney Smith Hall – St. George Street side at the patio up the stairs(100 St. George Street)


  • Student Centre overhang between The Blind Duck and the convenience store


  • Humanities-Wing Patio

If you haven’t yet, please review the agreement. 

To see the bulletin, click here.

The full agreement is available here for your review.

Tentative Agreement Details; Registration for Ratification Meeting

Hello CUPE 3261 members,

A brief bulletin with the summary of the Tentative Agreement (signed as a memorandum of settlement) is now available. The agreement is between the University and the Full-Time and Part-Time Bargaining Unit.

To see the bulletin, click here.

The full agreement is available here for your review.

Ratification Meeting Registration

This is also a final call for all members to register for our September 11th Ratification Meeting.

There will be three meetings held online, and members can attend one. The meetings will be held: 12PM-2PM, 5PM-7PM, and 10PM-12AM. Everyone attending a meeting will then be provided a link to vote for the tentative agreement online.

If you have not yet registered, please register here. We will be closing the registration on September 9th.

If you are unable to attend an online meeting, then you will have the option to vote in-person. Each campus will have a voting booth open for voting during the same times as the ratification meetings. Locations are still being confirmed and you will be updated as soon as possible.

The employer has been officially notified of the ratification meetings, and employees will be allowed to attend during working hours, but make sure your supervisor/manager is aware by double checking with them. See more here

Ratification Meeting – September 11th, 2020

A tentative agreement has been reached for the “main” bargaining unit – full-time and part-time members at St. George, UTM and UTSC. In order for the tentative agreement to be accepted by the members, they have to ratify it through a vote.

Ratification meetings for a new tentative agreement will be held on Friday, September 11th. This process will be held entirely online, including the meeting and the voting process.

Members must register and attend a ratification meeting in order to be eligible to vote. Registration closes September 8th at 12:00pm.

Once you register, you will receive a link to the zoom meeting shortly before the meeting.

We will have three separate ratification meetings on September 11th: You must attend one to vote.

  • 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
  • 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • 10:00 pm – 12:00 am

Register Here

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Contracting out and Health & Safety Update

Contracting Out

We must continue working together to organize all our members to put pressure on U of T to stop contracting out. Our demand is simple:

Bring cleaning in-house so that our members can ensure that the necessary health and safety standards are being met AND show the employer that we will continue to fight back anytime they move to contract out instead of hiring CUPE members

Our campaign will need high participation from members and the community abroad. While we continue to prepare more material such as posters, brochures, and videos, we ask members to continue sharing the petition and to visit and share the contracting out website 

We also encourage members and the U of T community abroad to send a message directly to U of T President Meric Gertler VP of Operations and Real Estate Partnerships Scott Mabury, and VP of Human Resources and Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat to demand they end contracting out. 

  • Ask them why they are contracting out cleaning services while members are laid off and especially during COVID-19. It has been proven time after time that private, contracted out cleaning reduces service quality and puts our health and safety at risk, while in-house work provides higher quality cleaning. 
  • Ask them why they believe it is okay for the University to pay poverty level wages, and to increase the share of workers without paid sick days during a pandemic. 
  • Ask them why they are okay with undermining unionized work, and why they are okay with normalizing precarious work on campus. 

Talk to your colleagues, let them know what is happening, and get them to sign the petition. 

Health and Safety 

U of T has failed to provide adequate consultations with labour and student groups on campus. We have been working with other groups as part of a coalition by coordinating, sharing information, and providing updates. On August 24th, labour groups including CUPE 3261 held a townhall discussing the science behind COVID-19. It has become clear to us that U of T continues to use out-dated scientific research on COVID-19 in their reopening plan, such as by not taking into serious consideration presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, as well as airborne transmission. 

Our hope is to ensure the University take into account the risks involved with allowing for any in-person classes at U of T. The risk of another outbreak is too high, and would put many of our members in serious risk. 

We continue to encourage members follow health and safety procedures at work place, including ensuring you have adequate personal protective equipment, and to follow physical distancing when possible.  COVID has been around for a while now, and we know many people are facing “pandemic fatigue.” Meanwhile, the reopening of most businesses has made it feel that we are almost back to normal. This is understandable, but the virus is still in full swing, so please do your best to keep everyone around you safe by following health and safety guidelines. And as always, if you do feel unsafe, you may carry a work refusal, and report any issues to your supervisor, manager, and union. 

Contracting out of Caretakers

Dear Members,

We have recently received emails and phone calls regarding CUPE member concerns of the ongoing contracting out of caretakers by the employer. Some members have inquired why the union did not attend the several meetings with caretakers and supervisors. The union was not invited to these meetings, and these meetings were held without official knowledge of the union. 

However, this does not change much of the situation. Under the Collective Agreement, the employer has the right to contract out work as long as existing CUPE 3261 members do not lose their jobs. 

We have raised our opposition to the employer about this move, and made it clear that they have the option to hire temporary CUPE 3261 employees, as well as hire from existing members who have been laid off due to COVID-19. This idea has been ignored. Instead, the employer would prefer to save money by hiring caretakers from a private company – justifying and normalizing low-wage labour under the guise of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. 

While the union will do what it can to protest this move, it is paramount that members take action as well to help us protest. The union leadership will be developing campaign material in the coming weeks, including posters, leaflets, videos, town halls,  online notices, and organizing potential action through pickets and protest. 

If members want to see U of T stop contracting out, then we must work together to raise awareness. Sign the petition if you haven’t yet, share it with your colleagues, and when the time comes, we will need your increased participation so that U of T hears us, and knows that contracting out will not be taken lightly by workers and the public alike.

In solidarity,

CUPE 3261 Executive