15 comments

  1. Peter says:

    I was forced to pay into EI for nearly 30 years as a member of the Canadian Forces knowing I was inelegible to draw it when I “needed it”. So ask me if I have any sympathy for Lizzie and her buds… she should be thanking me…

  2. R. Hudson Matchett says:

    Brian Lilley,

    You sir, are right on the money. Finally someone has put this albatros in the right perspective. Thank you for this. So I guess our P.M. is on the money too, eh?

  3. Alain says:

    Of course it is just another entitlement program the way it exists. I also was forced to contribute for 36 years without ever receiving a cent, yet I have seen enough scammers and abusers who collect far more than they could ever have contributed. Either run it as an actual insurance or even a type of savings account where no one takes out more than he or she puts in.

  4. brian mouland says:

    The program was created to be a bridge between jobs not a lifestyle

  5. Gabby in QC says:

    I know that everyone who gets EI didn’t or doesn’t do this but … years ago, while on a trip to Spain, my travelling companion and I were overheard by another bus passenger. Our Quebec French pricked up the passenger’s ears, so he started up a conversation with us. It turned out he was on UI, as it was known then. I doubt the UI bureaucrats had sent him to look for job openings in Spain!

  6. Jim and Rosemary Thompson says:

    Hey Hey Hey another lovely leftist Lizzy exposes her self for all to see. Now if she can just convince the rest of her tree hugger supporters to get another term she will be on the dole for the rest of her life, what a trip.
    Next lets work on the Senate and continue the reality check there.

  7. Thomas_L...... says:

    In some cases, it’s more complicated than the story you are telling. I have worked for 35 years in a government agency that has, over time, needed a lot of seasonal and casual workers. At one time, these jobs were fairly uncomplex but they have evolved over the years to where highly trained seasonal employees are essential to the operation. These are good jobs with the decent chance of eventual full time employment. Of course, this employer needs these people on short notice in the spring. Continually leaving lesser paying or less desirable jobs in order to return to work, will eventually affect the hirability of these workers. In laying these workers off in the winter, the employer is actually subsidized by EI. Shared blame, at least?

  8. Bill Elder says:

    Your numbers are selective, lack perspective and seem purposely self-serving Brian. It is irrelevant if a EI claimant pulls more on a claim than they pay (in one year) what matters is how this impacts the whole program – much like private insurance individual premiums never cover the payouts on a claim, because the risk is spread across the premium payers who don’t claim.

    Even though EI is not for profit neither should it run at a deficit. I will admit some abuse the system. I believe these people should pay premiums commensurate with their risk/claims record. However, the only figures that matter is what the fund takes in and what it has paid out. From the figures we soiled masses are privy to, EI has had yearly surplus revenues for a decade or more since the Liberals hiked premiums and cut benefit duration.

    As long as a federal social welfare program is making revenue not losing it, there is little or no justification to cut benefits or play with entitlement. If tory policy wonks can’t sleep at night worrying about some EI claimant getting more than they deserve (through some perverse concept of the merit system) I suggest they hound their own corpulent government over decadent pensions and perks and civil service workers gold plated sinecures. THAT would resonate with voters and the opposition opposing it would seal their fate with the anti-big government voter.

    EI is a program of last resort for many. It has been self-supporting and the only thing wrong with it is surpluses are consumed by the government instead of being rebated to system subscribers/payers/claimants. But this is not what is being done.

    I stand by my prediction this unwarranted meddling with an unbroken worker’s benefit program will come back to haunt the Tories at election. Between screwing gun owners with a half-baked ineffective reform of the registry system, they intend to now screw over people struggling with full time employment. Not smart.

  9. Poyani says:

    Brian Lilly’s calculations are incorrect. I don’t think you can stay on EI for 6 months after having a job for only 6 months. I just checked the government website and it says the amount of time you can stay on EI is dependent on your “insurable hours”, which are based on how long you have been working.

    Furthermore, I know for a fact that the program is funded by workers. That is, a lot of workers are paying into EI as INSURANCE for when they need it. Same as car insurance, same as life insurance. The total amount of money coming in for EI is far higher than the amount being paid out.

    I think the government is clawing back this insurance so that they can give the money to more of their criminal friends. We just found out last week that the Tory candidates who failed to get elected to ridings are being given cushy government jobs by Harper. I think that my $839/week is probably going to go into the pocket of some lame failed Tory candidate.

  10. Dale on the left coast says:

    Poyani says . . . “Same as car insurance, same as life insurance.”

    Really . . . keep having accidents you will find NO ONE will sell you car insurance ! ! ! Life Insurance? You have to DIE to collect . . . can you do that more than ONCE?

    Unemployment Insurance had been abused for decades, the rules even change from region to region . . . time to FIX the MESS ! ! !

  11. Brian Lilley says:

    Okay, about the numbers. Depending on where you live you can collect EI after as little as 420 weeks or as much as 700. That works out to between 10.5 and 17 weeks worth of full-time work. That’s less than six months. Depending on where you live you can then collect for close to a year, in some places you can collect up to 50 weeks of EI.
    Now as for the surplus, it is long gone.
    The EI surplus helped Paul Martin balance the budget, it was tens of billions of dollars and was spent during the Chretien era and is not coming back. I even covered the Supreme Court case that ruled on this. The unions asked for the money to be returned the court said no.
    The Harper government changed EI to make sure there would be no similar huge surplus going into general revenue, they also lowered premiums. Those premiums have gone back up slightly after the stimulus spending.
    Why?
    Because during the worst part of the recession the EI system was overwhelmed and was subsidized through general revenue, meaning tax dollars and not premiums, to the tune of many billions of dollars.
    A big chunk of the deficits we’ve seen over the last few years have been as a result of EI payments.
    Bill, the government is not taking EI away from those that need it they are changing the system to discourage abuse – the people that are on it year after year.
    If you think people should be able to work 10 weeks and collect pogey for most of the year then you and I differ.
    Most workers don’t do that and if those regular folks need EI it will be there.
    If people don’t want to vote for this or any other government because the government says they don’t want to subsidize their lifestyle then so be it.

  12. Constantin says:

    I believe that Mr. Elder is not aware of the true size of the problem. Sevice Canada has minimal resources at its disposal for preventing fraud, and the introduction of quasi-automatic web-based services led to an exponential worsening for a system that was already too exposed. The reality is that government subsidized so called seasonal businesses do not have enough incentive to diversify and create work in the off-season months. Like any system that actually eliminates any incentive for work, EI covert subsidies for seasonal employment may be close to the root of the economic stagnation of the maritime provinces. I think it is perfectly legitimate to focus on the incentive aspect of the program, without taking away its core insurance in time of need function. Much effort is required to reverse a cultural shift towards entitlement. There was a time in Canada when it was a matter of pride to be self-suficient, even in hard times. That pride is long gone for way too many.

  13. tac says:

    Bill Elder and Poyani should learn a little about what they are commenting on before commenting.
    First of all, it is not a federal social welfare program! It is insurance! That is the reason it is a separate deduction from your pay and doesn’t come out of taxes. It is relevent that many claiments are getting back more in benefits every year than what they have paid in. With any other insurance, such as home and car insurance, the more you claim the more your premiums go up and continually claiming causes your insurance to be cancelled!
    Second, there is no EI surplus. If you have access to figures, you didn’t read it. There was a surplus created by the fiberals by lowering benefits and increasing benefits starting in 1996. They transferred this surplus every year to general revenues to balance the budget. Between 1996 and 2006, they transferred and spent approx 50 billion dollars of EI premiums on other government programs.
    In 2008, the conservatives, through legislation, created a new EI fund for the premiums to go to and the government can’t transfer these funds and spend them on something else. The fund is operating in the red as there is not enough premiums to cover all the abuse and they have to take funds out of general government revenues to cover the difference.
    Third, workers and employers both pay premiums into the fund with the employer paying 1.4 times the worker’s premiums.
    Fourth, Poyani, you are not paying $839/month!! The maximum anyone pays is $839/year and that is if you earn approx $45,000 dollars. The less you make, the less you pay.
    Fifth, Poyani, you should check the government website again and actually read it. You can work as little as 420 hours (approx 10 weeks or 2. 5 months) and receive 32 weeks (8 months) of benefits.

    Employment insurance is an insurance and is paid for by those who work and their employers! It was not meant and was not set up to be a social program nor to allow and promote prople working EVERY YEAR FOR AS LITTLE AS TEN WEEKS and then sit at home while being paid by those who do work!!

  14. Bill Elder says:

    Brian: If this Harper initiative to return EI revenues to the system from general coffers is a fact I stand most humbly corrected. I was unaware of this. Given this new info, I’m still unaware that the EI system is leaking any significant red ink compared to other Fed-run not-for-profit public programs. If this is a persistent condition, I put it down to abnormal circumstance and premium inadequacy.

    Had the EI fund been managed as per the law (despite court rulings I feel those who broke the law to misdirect EI funds should be doing jail time) there would be a buffer there to get the system past temporary high use periods. I’m thinking that selling off a good chunk of a state owned albatross (like CBC perhaps) could be directed toward replacing the stolen EI fund buffer.

    If Harper can restructure EI to be the self-sufficient program it was before it was pillaged, I tip my hat to him. However the Harperites have never been very savvy about communicating what they are doing to the public, which would account for my misunderstanding of their motives and progress. Without making it clear to the public exactly what is being done, and why, the opposition will have a duck shoot with them over “tampering with an entitlement”.

    BTW: EI IS a social welfare program, not an insurance plan because –

    A)It has no profit motive/mandate, no actuarials determining premiums, no private shareholders and no private supplemental capitalization

    B)It is a guaranteed state entitlement by law.

  15. Constantin says:

    I would agree that EI meets the wicki-definition of a welfare social program. The problem is that its unequal implementation (which, by the way, is unique among programs coming from the same source) turns it into a hidden but significant regional redistribution scheme. That is no loger an individual welfare issue, but a matter of public policy that causes regional inequities and economic stagnation. From this perspective is entirely irrelevant whether the progarm is “leeking red ink” or not. My biggest concern continues to be its impact on development through its unequal implementation accross the land. The new legislation hardly scratches the surface of that. It is simly trying to add a minimal (possibly ineffective) amount of coercion to accept jobs, but the one hour commute distance proviso is meaningless. I was all excited about the initiative to tackle the negative incentives and the parasitic exploitation by seasonal businesses and employees, but find that it was all a storm in a tea kettle. I fail to understand how a redistribution social welfare program that can easily be incorporated into a seasonal enterprise’s business plan wojuld be acceptable to you, Mr. Elder. Although certain family relationships conditions are supposed to apply, many seasonal businesses in Nova Scotia and NFLD employ family members. The period of “employment” manisfests an uncanny flexibility in adapting exactly to the small minimum EI eligibility criteria variations that happen over time. Admittedly, this direct government subsidy prevents some migration, but is this really what this program was meant to achieve? Seriously? We live in a world were bloated governments overspend the GDP of their countries and think it acceptable for them to stay involved in keeping afloat businesses incapable of supporting themselves? A natural balance that made those incapable of taking care of themselves a minority, has been reversed. Look at the number of Americans receiving food stamps. Whatever it takes we have to encourage self-suficiency and return to a system that assists only those truly in need. Think “Greece” and slash the “pogey”!

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