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Hidden Clawback in New Conservative E.I. Program Increases Income Inequality

Hidden Clawback in New Conservative E.I. Program Increases Income Inequality

Posted on September 19, 2012

OTTAWA– The Conservatives’ new Employment Insurance (E.I.) pilot program increases income inequality by clawing back benefits from those who need it most, said Liberal Human Resources and Skills Development critic Rodger Cuzner today.

“This government is once again attacking the most vulnerable by penalizing low-income workers on E.I. who are only able to find a few hours of work per week,” said Mr. Cuzner. “Like Mitt Romney and the Republicans, the Conservatives think it’s not their job to worry about ‘those people.’”

The Conservative Working While on Claim pilot project contains a new, hidden disincentive that will have the opposite effect for E.I. claimants with low weekly earnings, clawing back as much as 50% of their wages. In addition, it will force people working in seasonal industries or living in areas of high unemployment to move away from their families and communities to take jobs in other areas of the country. This new Conservative program replaces the original Working While on Claim pilot, established in 2005 by the previous Liberal government, which sought to create strong incentives for people on E.I. to move back into full-time employment.

“Under these new rules, a part-time worker making $78 a week will have it clawed back to just $39,” said Mr. Cuzner. “The new E.I. program will only make it harder for unemployed Canadians to get back on their feet and into the workforce, and harder for employers to find employees willing to work only a few hours per week. This is unjust and unacceptable, and must be changed.”