Prime Minister Stephen Harper made several misleading statements about EI in the House of Commons yesterday.
“It is simply a proposal... to raise payroll taxes to the roof in perpetuity for workers in small business.”
Fact: There is absolutely no requirement to raise payroll taxes in order to increase EI eligibility. The Liberal plan for EI eligibility does not include any increase in revenue collection. Payroll taxes are frozen and Liberals support leaving them that way.
“The Liberal Leader... is making the proposal that a Canadian could work 45 days and collect employment insurance for a year and that would be the system in every region in perpetuity.”
Fact: You can only receive EI if you’ve paid into the system and been laid off through no choice and no fault of your own. EI is not, in Diane Finley’s words, “lucrative for (laid-off Canadians) to stay home and get paid for it.” The government’s EI policy allows for a variable length of eligibility by region – ranging from 19 to 50 weeks – and the Liberal proposal doesn’t change that. Liberals are making proposals that reflect the reality of the recession while Conservatives remain oblivious to the growing crisis.
“The proposal... would do nothing for the economy, for the recession today.”
Fact: Laid-off workers are those most likely to spend 100 percent of their benefits to provide for their immediate day-to-day needs – things like food, rent and transportation – providing direct economic stimulus to some of the hardest-hit regions in the country. For every $1 spent by laid-off workers, local economies benefit from $1.60 in economic spin-offs.
“Over 80 percent of those who are paying into (Employment Insurance) are receiving benefits.”
Fact: Under the current rules, less than 60 percent of unemployed Canadians who have paid into EI receive benefits. 150,000 more people would be eligible for EI under our proposal – which would provide fairness for nearly half of the over 300,000 people laid off under your watch since last October.
“We have an EI system that responds to market needs. When we have difficulties as we have now, the system responds – benefits increase, eligibility increases as well.”
Fact: EI only adjusts after the unemployment rate has risen dramatically – cold comfort for those who lose their job without EI benefits before the unemployment number skyrockets. EI was not designed to react quickly to the massive, nationwide job losses experienced under this Conservative government.
Five misrepresentations in one Question Period exchange leaves us with one question: why is the Prime Minister trying to divide Canadians on fairness for laid-off workers?