Libby Speaking on Employment Insurance Eligibility

HANSARD
House of Commons

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, under this Conservative government more than half the people who pay into EI do not actually get it. For all their working lives, Canadians have been told EI would be there for them if and when they needed it. Because of changes brought in by the Liberals, tens of thousands of Canadians who have been thrown out of work are no longer eligible.

When will the Prime Minister take steps to implement the concrete measures adopted by this House March 10 that will provide EI benefits to those who need it?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member. The facts are that over 80% of Canadians who pay into employment insurance can collect the benefits. It is getting easier for people to collect benefits, that is the good news. The bad news is it is because the economy is worsening.

Our system automatically adjusts every month on a regional basis as the local conditions change. When the local conditions get worse, EI gets easier to get and for a longer period of time and with extended benefits to help those most in need when they need it most. I wish the hon. member had supported our efforts to do that.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that the number one issue when it comes to EI is eligibility. A five week extension does not help the 57% who do not qualify to begin with. This House has spoken loudly and clearly that EI eligibility must be reformed, but this Prime Minister has refused to listen. This is the same person who said that a prime minister “has a moral responsibility to respect the will of the House”.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister, what happened to those morals, why is he ignoring the will of the House and denying the unemployed the EI benefits they so desperately need?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member why she will not tell Canadians the real facts, which are that over 80% of people who contribute to EI can collect the benefits. I would also like to ask her to explain to Canadians why she and her party voted against an additional five weeks of benefits for those who need it most when they need it most.

I would like to ask her why her party opposed providing training, not just for those who are on EI but for those who do not even qualify for EI so that those people can get the benefit of long term training to get long term jobs to take care of their family. Why would she not support those moves to help Canadians?

This Question Period Transcript was posted on March 25, 2009