E.I. Reform Needed

February 6, 2009
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, with the figures released today, over a quarter of a million Canadians have been thrown out of work in the last 90 days. In January alone, the increase was three times what was forecasted, leaving 129,000 workers scrambling. This is only the beginning.

Canadians are not looking for whom to blame, they just want to know they are going to get the help they need to weather this economic storm. The parliamentary secretary says that we should get serious. Okay, let us do that.

Will the government finally acknowledge the urgent need to eliminate the two-week waiting period and increase accessibility to EI right now for those in need?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says that she wants to create jobs and that is what we want to do for those who are unfortunate enough to lose theirs. That is why, in our economic action plan, we are expanding work-sharing. That is why we are making unprecedented investments in retraining those who have lost their jobs, so they can participate in the jobs of tomorrow.
The hon. member wants to make it easier for people to not take advantage of those opportunities in the future. She is also blocking it by not supporting our budget implementation act, which will be tabled today. I encourage her to change her position.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, this recession is looking a lot worse than anyone forecasted. There are now 1.3 million Canadians looking for work, yet the government’s plan is clearly too little, too late and its infrastructure rules are too stringent to lead the economic recovery that Canadians need.
We do not need to wait to see if things will get worse. They are worse right now.
Will the government increase its stimulus package and remove the matching infrastructure rules that are slowing down the country’s economic recovery?

Hon. John Baird (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, we have come forward with a series of new programs and initiatives designed to put a shot in the arm of the Canadian economy in every region of the country. We have indicated to our provincial and territorial partners that we are prepared to accelerate the existing building Canada programs so more money can get into the hands of workers right across the country.

Step by step, we feel that infrastructure can be a very important place to help provide economic growth. We are particularly looking at a number of projects in her home community of Vancouver, where we were very concerned with the unemployment rates that came out today.