Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley and this Conservative government have no problem misinforming, misleading and misrepresenting the facts to suit their needs. Here are their top five fictions about Employment Insurance:
Fiction #1: EI Processing Times
“When it comes to EI, our annual service standard is to process 80 per cent of applications within 28 days. We are currently averaging 23 days for speed of the first payment.” (Minister Finley, Op-ed in the Guardian, November 21, 2011)
Fact: The Conservatives moved the standard for EI cheque processing from 21 days to 28 days. Even with an extra week of processing time, nearly one in four unemployed Canadians are not getting their EI application processed within that standard.
Fiction #2: Cost of EI Fraud to System
“We must root out the fraud that is in the EI system. It is costing hundreds of millions of dollars and that cost is being borne by workers and employers.” (Minister Finley, February 1st, 2013)
Fact: The Public Accounts clearly show that the government has consistently recouped all but a fraction of fraudulent EI claims.
Fiction #3: EI Fraud Quotas
“Departmental employees do not have individual quotas.” (Minister Finley, February 1st, 2013)
Fact: Five days after this statement, the government disclosed that it has set specific targets for EI fraud enforcement, totalling $430 million annually.
Fiction #4: The New EI Working While on Claim Pilot Project
“This new pilot will ensure that EI claimants will always benefit from accepting work by allowing them to keep more of what they earn while on EI…” (Budget 2012, pg. 147)
Fact: The new program has caused low wage earners to actually lose money. Under pressure from the Liberal Party, the Minister adjusted the pilot program.
Fiction #5: Being Available for Work
“No one will have to take a job that puts them in a worse financial position than collecting EI alone. No one is being forced to move out of their community to find a job. When determining whether a job is suitable, things such as additional costs for transportation and child care, as well as personal circumstances, will always be taken into consideration.” (HRSDC Press Release: February 19th, 2013)
Fact: Days after new EI changes came into effect, Marlene Giersdorf, a single mother from PEI was kicked off EI for turning down a job located 60 km from her home, even though she had no access to transportation to make the trip to this job.