Ignatieff fails to show solidarity with working families who are losing their jobs

Michael Ignatieff, the new leader of the
Official Opposition in Ottawa, missed an important opportunity to
show his support for Canadian working families that will be losing
their jobs in the weeks and months to come as a result of the
recession affecting the country as well as the rest of the planet.

In exchange for the backing of the Federal Liberal Party of the
Flaherty budget presented January 27 last, Michael Ignatieff could
have demanded – and obtained – the liberalization of Employment
Insurance eligibility requirements allowing for a greater number of
workers who have lost their jobs to receive benefits.

It is indecent that only 48% of workers who have lost their jobs
qualify for EI benefits because of EI eligibility requirements that
are too strict. This is utterly outrageous considering the
accumulated surplus of about $58 billion in the EI Fund, a surplus,
may I remind you, that has been created by EI premiums paid by
workers and employers.

For ten years now EI has no longer been fulfilling its mission
towards laid-off workers. In the ’80s, 83% of workers who had lost
their jobs qualified for Employment Insurance benefits of 60% of
their salaries with a maximum set by law. Now, not only have the
benefits been reduced to 55% of the salary but the eligibility
requirements have been tightened to a point where less than half of
laid-off workers today are eligible for temporary income to support
themselves and their families.

Where have your liberal values and compassion toward your fellow
citizens gone Mr. Ignatiefff ? You have miserably missed a truly
important opportunity to support those workers who are the victims
of the recession.

Serge Cadieux