Business of Supply – Opposition Motion—Employment Insurance

That this House call on the Conservative government to abandon plans to further restrict access to Employment Insurance for Canadian workers who have followed the rules and who will now be forced to choose between taking a pay cut of up to 30% or losing their Employment Insurance benefits. 

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, what we are looking at is a stepwise process. The minister says she is not interested in telling people they have to leave the communities where they live, but the government is now creating three different tiers for people, including one I find quite offensive, the idea that there is something wrong with a “repeat user”, because that is actually the foundation for seasonal tourism, seasonal fishery and seasonal forestry.

What I see coming is a shrinking in the number of people available for an appeal. Some bureaucrat somewhere will say, “We think there is suitable work for you”, and if the unemployed person says, “I am afraid I cannot get that job or do that job”, for whatever the reasons are, that person will be cut off. Then the appeal is down for however many thousands of people are appealing, and 75 people will make the decision. Then in another year, the government may come back and say it is going to have to ask people to move farther to find work.

I think this is a progression toward closing down seasonal and remote areas. I would ask my friend for his comment.

Rodger Cuzner: Mr. Speaker, the member speaks from a position of understanding, her family members being restaurateurs back in Cape Breton for a great number of years. I am sure she did not lead too many to harbourside tables in the middle of February.

There is a lack of understanding on the part of the government about the importance of seasonal industries and how they operate. That is what is riddled throughout this legislation, and that is why I will be supporting this motion today.