Saturday, May 19, 2012

What are the changes to EI? Harper government says 'trust us'

I've been reading about proposed changes to EI legislation, with speculation rampant that benefits will become harder to qualify for, particularly for those who repeatedly access the program.

Okay, fair enough.

I don't consider myself an extremist on any issue, and that includes social programs like EI.  I'm certain that some on the left will deride any effort that makes Employment Insurance more difficult to obtain, however I'll hold back on forming an opinion until there's more information.

What does rankle me however is that according to a CBC story (HERE) the government wants the legislation enabling the changes to pass first, and then they'll provide the details. 

Uhm...that smells. 

After the F35 mess the Harper government is really pushing its luck in expecting the trust of Canadians.  In all likelihood though its probably more a case of the Conservatives banking on a lazy and ill informed electorate, especially when we're still in the early stages of a majority mandate.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is reported as saying the changes will be fair and reasonable.  Well, if that's the case why aren't Canadians and our elected representatives being given the details? 

Our democracy is becoming more and more like the U.S. system every day under Stephen Harper, with decision making and control being centred in the PMO.  The only problem is that Canada lacks a body like the U.S. congress to provide a check on executive power. 

As far as changes to EI go, I'm not so blind as to think the system is perfect, and that changes can't be made to improve it.  I have no doubt that there are people accessing the system repeatedly even though they could be working. 

I actually agree with recent comments made by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty regarding the dignity of work.  In a related CBC story from May 15th Flaherty is quoted as saying:

I have no issue with that statement whatsoever, I share the same view .  I too have taken jobs many might consider beneath them, I've been a janitor and pumped gas, I even drove a taxi myself...although that was a summer job and the cab was a bicycle called a pedi-cab. 

Whatever the changes are, this is a system that Canadians pay for and we deserve to know what the government is planning before the fact, not after. 

If Canadians can't get the straight goods on the purchase of billion dollar fighter jets we should at least get the details on EI changes with a chance for fair and reasonable debate before they're implemented.

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