Labour council wants answers from MP on EI

Kamloops Daily News
January 6, 2014 01:00 AM

The Kamloops and District Labour Council would like MP Cathy McLeod - who is also parliamentary secretary to the minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification - to respond to the study published by the Canadian Taxpayer's Federation (CTF) on Nov. 18. The study concludes that her government uses employment insurance contributions as a "cash cow" to subsidize other government projects.

Gregory Thomas, CTF federal director, states that McLeod's government ". . .
collected $3.3 billion more in EI tax last year than (it) paid out in benefits . . ." and that her government is ". . . forecasted to collect $4.2 billion more this year."

We would like to hear what our MP believes are the solutions to this remarkable discrepancy between EI taxes collected and the shortfall of what is paid to unemployed workers.

As I am sure she is aware, many steps have been taken over the last 20 years to make collection of EI benefits more difficult as well as decreasing the amount of benefits available to unemployed workers.

Her Conservative government has shown great commitment to the globalized resource extraction industries and, because of the increasing ties to this volatile sector and the abandonment of a more stable manufacturing sector, we can safely say that the need for the EI program will continue to increase.

Furthermore, given that her government is not committed to drastically reducing unemployment, it's easy to conclude that her government is satisfied with maintaining a reserve pool of roughly two million unemployed workers.

Again, these economic decisions will only increase the need for a stable and
accessible EI program.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged that the federal government had improperly accumulated an EI surplus of $57 billion between 1996 and 2008, but that the government was permitted to spend the surplus accordingly under its general taxation laws.

However, also in 2008, the Conservatives' finance minister announced the creation of a new Crown corporation that would be responsible for restricting the use of EI premiums for the purpose of employment insurance only. This was, supposedly, a way of addressing the inappropriate redirection of EI funds into other ideologically driven projects such as the reduction in corporate taxes.

Given her government's commitment in 2008 to restrict the use of EI funds for EI purposes, how does she explain the continued over-collection and accumulation of workers' benefits at a time when it has never been harder to qualify for EI benefits, and the benefits, in relation to the cost-of-living, in my lifetime anyway, have never been so low?


PETER KEREK


President


Kamloops and District Labour Council


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