With Ryan Sparrow pulling the strings for Diane Finley, and Pierre Poilievre chosen to spout more of his nonsense; the Liberals have asked Parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, to do a cost analysis of EI reform.
This was a wise move, because how could we possibly believe a thing the Cons tell us when it comes to money.
They clearly just make it up as they go along.
Review of cost analysis of EI reform could set the stage for a fall election
Ignatieff has opportunity to put forward a no-confidence motion in late September if he is not happy with the working group's results
Globe and Mail
August 20, 2009
Liberals have stroked the potential trigger of a fall election by asking Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to examine what they say is an inflated Conservative cost analysis of their plan to revamp employment insurance.
Conservative and Liberal MPs who are part of a working group formed to discuss changes to the EI system said progress was made at a closed-door session Thursday. They agreed to get together again in two weeks for another round of negotiations.
Liberal Human Resources critic Mike Savage, one of the working group's co-chairs, said bureaucrats have been asked in the meantime to work on some proposals “that might move the ball.”
But Mr. Savage has also written a letter to Mr. Page requesting an assessment of Conservative calculations that peg the cost of the Liberal proposal to create uniform national standards for EI qualification at up to $4-billion.
“They torqued it up beyond belief,” Mr. Savage said of the Conservative figure. He has asked that Mr. Page's analysis be completed by the end of August and that it be made public.
Mr. Page responded to Mr. Savage's request by asking the Human Resources Department for the data, analysis and assumptions that were used to calculate the cost of the Liberal plan.
Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative member of the working group, dismissed the move to bring in Mr. Page, saying, “We already have a costing.” The Liberals, he said, “are shopping around for a different number that suits them.”
He called the Liberal plan both “expensive and irresponsible.”
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has the opportunity to put forward a no-confidence motion in late September if he is not happy with the working group's results.
The EI Working Group was established in June to explore ways to improve fairness in EI eligibility and to examine the potential for bringing self-employed Canadians into the EI system.
There are currently 58 different regional standards for EI eligibility. A person has to have worked anywhere from 420 to 700 hours in the previous 12 months, depending on the regional unemployment rate, to collect benefits.
The Liberals want to lower the number of hours of work required to 360, a measure that they say would cost an additional $1.5-billion a year. They say, however, that they're flexible on what the qualifying level should be.
The government, at the request of the working group, agreed to determine how much it would cost if the work requirement were set at such hourly levels as 390, 420 and 560. But Human Resources Minister Diane Finley told the meeting yesterday that she had asked her officials to stop that work because the government was not going to support a national standard, the Liberals said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton, whose party initially proposed the 360-hour standard, has said repeatedly that he will vote against the Conservative government on any matter of confidence. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe has been less unequivocal but he, too, supports the Liberal proposal on employment insurance.
That means any Liberal confidence motion is likely to push the country into an election.
The Globe and Mail reported yesterday that the Conservatives have started to call on Canadians to give them a majority government in the next election.
Conservative talking points sent yesterday to Tory MPs said the Globe story contained false analysis and speculation. It warned against suggesting that the government wants an election this fall.
“It is essential that all Caucus members and activists remember that we are NOT – repeat NOT – pushing for a fall election. We are focused on the economy. We are focused on implementing our economic action plan,” said the memo.
“We will not and should not encourage speculation about a fall election.”