Thursday, May 24, 2012

EI changes nudge Canada further to the right

For the majority of Canadians, those who identify themselves as centre-left on the political spectrum, the announced changes to EI show further evidence of Canada evolving into a more and more Conservative nation.  Hrmmm, maybe I shouldn't capitalize in this case, we're actually becoming more 'small c' conservative in my view.

The proposed changes...pfffft, its a majority government so who cares if they're only 'proposed' at this point. 

The changes will make it more difficult to for those who've accessed EI multiple times to refuse work.  I have no doubt that some will take exception to this, arguing that it will result in people being forced into jobs which don't match their qualifications.  And that this is more pandering to business interests, forcing workers to lower their salary expectations.

There is merit to that argument certainly, and I do think Diane Finley stepped in it when saying that EI recipients should be working at McDonald's if they have the qualifications for the job.  I think the main qualification is a pulse.  I'm betting that's the line of attack opposition parties will take. 

Improving the economy, one Big Mac at a time.

EI is a user pay system, and it irked me that under the Chrétien/Martin Liberals EI took in billions more in revenue than it paid out in benefits.  Of course under the Liberals we had balanced and surplus budgets thanks in part to the tightening of EI eligibility rules, so perhaps the Tories are thinking along the same lines.  But minimum wage jobs aren't going to do much to improve a person's standard of living.

At the end of the day EI is meant to be a hand-up, not a hand out.  And I, like many, know that there are individuals who milk the system.  I agree with Jim Flaherty's comment about there not being a bad job, there are no small jobs in my books...only small people.  There is dignity in work from where I sit, regardless of what a person is doing.

But he economy is fragile right now, with our massive housing bubble starting to show strain.  McJobs aren't going to get the economy going in the right direction.

Bottom line though, I think most Canadians won't have an issue with these changes, most Canadians are working thankfully.  Individual opinions might change however the first time a former EI recipient has to ask: "Do you want fries with that"?

Read the full story, with Minister Finley's McDonald's comments here:

Workers' EI history to affect claim under new rules

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