OTTAWA— Liberal Human Resources & Skills Development and Labour critic Rodger Cuzner made the following statement today on the Conservative government’s proposed changes to Employment Insurance (EI):
“Over the past week, Minister after Minister has stumbled to explain the proposed changes to EI buried within the Budget, flip-flopping on critical details. Now, in a hastily convened press conference, we are presented with changes that penalize Canadians for circumstances beyond their control.
While we’re glad to see that the Conservatives have backed away from earlier draconian proposals floated by their most senior Ministers, including the Minister of Finance, we’re concerned that the announced changes will force many Canadians to take low-skilled, low-paying jobs, jeopardize the economic security of communities that are reliant on seasonal industries, and that the appeals process will now be handled by a handful of political appointees based in Ottawa instead of by regional experts that are familiar with local circumstances. In addition, the Conservatives say these changes are driven by the need to connect unemployed Canadians with skilled jobs, yet these changes do nothing to address Canada’s skills shortage.
EI is a crucial part of our social safety net. Canadians have paid into the program, and it must be there to fall back on should they find themselves without work.
Changes of this magnitude should be enshrined in legislation, not made hastily on the back of a napkin. We are calling on the Conservative government to strip the EI provisions from the omnibus budget bill and put them in a separate bill so that MPs and Senators can give these measures the study that is needed.”