May 22, 2009 21:23 ET
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 22, 2009) - Canada's Conservative government is responding to the worldwide economic crisis by helping those who are out of work, by offering new and expanded retraining programs and focusing our efforts on laid-off long-tenured workers with many years of experience and older workers who upgrade their skills. We are helping vulnerable and unemployed Canadians who have been paying into the Employment Insurance system for years but have unfortunately - through no fault of their own - now found themselves unemployed because of a global crisis.
Among other things, our Conservative government introduced several measures in our Economic Action Plan to enhance our EI program, such as:
- extending EI benefits by 5 weeks - more than double the 2 weeks advocated for by the opposition;
- extending the work-sharing program - more than 100,000 Canadian jobs are protected by working with Canadian employers to share costs and avoid layoffs;
- freezing EI premium rates;
- investing an additional $60 million for EI claims processing, including the hiring of additional staff, to ensure that Canadians receive their EI benefits as quickly as possible in a time of high demand;
- investing an unprecedented $8.3 billion in the Canada Skills and Transition Strategy to support workers and their families, including measures for income support, skills and training;
- helping Canadians with training, whether they are on EI or not, through Labour Market Agreements with the provinces and territories.
In contrast, Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party think that Canadians should be eligible to collect employment insurance after working only 45 days. This government does not support this "45-day work year" idea and neither do Canadians.
In fact, we've heard from those Canadians that have been working for years, and they are telling us that they are offended by Michael Ignatieff's "45-day work year" idea because this solution is a short-sighted proposal that will do nothing to help them. This proposal is not thought-out and does nothing to support those who have already lost their jobs, including long-tenured workers that need help now.
Michael Ignatieff bases his proposal on false claims that "more than 40% of the unemployed in this country aren't eligible for EI even though they have paid into the system". His statements are wrong and misleading to Canadians. The fact is that 82% who pay into the system are eligible to receive benefits if they lose their job through no fault of their own. And current EI entrance requirements do not impede access to the program.
Unfortunately, if we implemented Mr. Ignatieff's idea, it would have disastrous impacts on the Canadian economy. His proposal would result in a massive increase in job-killing payroll taxes that will hurt workers and small businesses alike. Cost estimates for this proposal are in the billions of dollars. We simply will not force all working Canadians and businesses to pay more taxes at this critical time for this wrongheaded proposal.
We are committed to helping Canadians through this crisis. Helping those who have lost their jobs as a result of the global economic downturn is something we will continue to take aggressive action to fix. But, unlike Mr. Ignatieff, we will not base these efforts on incorrect assumptions, and we will not raise taxes on Canadians at a time when they can least afford it.
The Hon. Diane Finley, P.C., M.P. , Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
Minister Diane Finley's OfficeJulie VauxDirector of Communications for Minister Finley819-994-2482 or Cell.: 613-762-7481
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