Stephen Harper may have bought himself a bit of time by promising much needed EI reform, but it would appear given their latest news releases, that it will be just the same old same old. Diane Finley, with Ryan Sparrow pulling her strings, has gone to their three stage plan to deal with any crisis.
1. Pretend you are committed.
2. Blame it on the Liberals.
3. LIE, LIE, LIE!!!
Of course you know that when they placed Poilievre on the 'working group', they never intended to take it seriously. This little SS officer incarnate, snapped to attention, barked 'Heil Harper' then announced that their government will "never" accept Ignatieff's proposal.
Now as a follow up performance, Ms Finley, with carefully prepared speech in hand, and wearing her fire retardant panties, went into one of the worst stand-up routines I've ever witnessed.
Liberals reject $4B price tag on EI proposal
By Norma Greenaway,
Canwest News Service
August 7, 2009
OTTAWA — Federal Liberals have dismissed as shameful a Conservative bid to put a $4-billion price tag on the Liberals' key proposal for allowing more jobless Canadians to qualify for employment insurance benefits.
Liberal MP Marlene Jennings said Thursday the Conservatives came up with the number by "throwing everything, including the kitchen sink," into the calculation.
"Shame on them. This seems to be the Conservative solution to the EI problem," she said in an interview.
Jennings was speaking following a meeting of a special Conservative-Liberal working group that has been charged with coming up with ways to improve EI by Sept. 28.
A government analysis said the Liberal proposal to slash the minimum work requirement to qualify for employment insurance benefits to 360 hours across the country could exceed $4 billion a year.
A senior Conservative official circulated a synopsis of the cost analysis to reporters.
It said the proposed change could cost four times more than the $1 billion cited by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who has promoted the 360-hour standard as a means of easing the plight of the unemployed during the economic recession.
Under the current system, a person has to have worked 420 to 700 hours in the previous 12 months, depending on the regional unemployment rate, to collect benefits.
Jennings said in an interview the $4-billion figure does not reflect what the Liberals are proposing because, among other things, it included those claiming EI benefits for everything from illness to maternity, parental and compassionate leave.
The government tally estimated reducing the requirement to 360 hours would add 332,580 people to the EI rolls.
The Liberals say their plan would apply only to those qualifying for regular EI benefits — or an estimated 117,000.
Given the government's estimate that the average benefit cost for each claimant is $6,900, the price tag on the Liberal plan would be slightly more than $1 billion, Jennings maintained.
The working group, which plans to meet again next week, has asked government officials to return with cost estimates if the work requirement were set at such hourly levels as 390, 420 and 560, and only if those qualifying for regular jobless benefits were covered.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, a member of the committee, has said the 360-hour requirement is "straight out of academic fantasyland" and a non-starter.
Jennings has said the Liberals are willing to negotiate the 360-hour benchmark, and the means to expand EI benefits to the self-employed.
She said the subject of the self-employed was broached for the first time Thursday and that officials have been asked to cost a range of options for another meeting of the working group next Thursday.
Ignatieff has threatened to try to force an election if the government doesn't get serious about EI reform.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, a member of the group, brushed off questions about the credibility of the $4-billion figure. He said the only thing Canadians need to know is that the Liberal proposal is "extremely expensive" and "totally unacceptable." (The only thing Canadians need to know? Is he kidding me? We're not pawns in some chess game from hell, and certainly should not be on a 'need to know' basis with our government.)
The government's $4-billion estimate — a fourfold increase on the $1-billion price tag a recent TD Bank report put on the idea — landed amid stepped-up calls for EI reform from provincial premiers, who are meeting in Regina this week.
The premiers appeared split, however, on how to change the qualification period for collecting EI benefits.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has supported Ignatieff's call for a single standard, but says 360 hours is too low a bar. Others have balked at setting a single standard, but have supported streamlining the current 58 qualifying standards.
Western premiers agreed earlier this summer to promote three regional categories: urban, rural and remote.
The leaders of the Atlantic provinces stressed that any changes cannot dilute the existing system.
"The first principle on this is do no harm," said Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia's rookie NDP premier.
The Conservative analysis crunched numbers on four possible scenarios involving a single standard of 360 hours of work and 19 weeks of benefits.
The estimate was based on a forecast unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent in 2009-10, estimated wage and benefit growth, as well as potential labour-market impacts, such as having to raise EI benefits.
The Liberals have insisted they would finance any EI changes out of general revenues, rather than upping premiums for workers or employees.
If they can bail out the auto industry, why can't they help our unemployed?
There were three comments at the end of this piece. One was the usual Harper induced rant about our welfare state, but the other two were important, considering that this was Alberta.
"That's almost $26B less than what Harper gave up when he lowered GST by 2%. Good job Steve"
"Canada has a $2 Trillion economy, and the Americans routinely throw around $1 Trillion bailout packages, so am I to be unnerved by a paltry $4 Billion for EI. The last time a number like that was significant was in 1914 when that was the amount of the British Gold Reserves. Get some perspective here. You do not scare me Ms. Finley."