EI reform isn't coming anytime soon to workers exhausting their benefits. As unemployment continues to rise, banks make huge profits and the prospect of an election dimming, we can expect little help.
Ignatieff managed to avoid a spring election by having Harper agree to a panel of LPCers and Conservatives, discuss over the summer, possible changes to EI. They met over the summer and so far agreed to disagree. That's not a surprise really. Harper has been stating for months that such action when demanded by the NDP was not needed. Now Iggy is back peddling. How do I get off this horse?
Where are the roots to today's EI problems? Go back to 1994 and Paul Martin, then finance Minister in the Liberal government. He cut back the entitlements, building of Brian Mulroney's cut backs to make it even harder to qualify for EI. They expanded the number of regions and extended hours needed to qualify, cut weeks of benefit and unless your boss went belly up, you couldn't hope to get EI.
Today we see record numbers of people on EI. Those people will see their benefits run out in a few months. What then, there are few new jobs, heck more people than ever are losing jobs.
Back to Paul Martin. As finance minister he stole funds from EI to balance the governments budget. So while collecting ever larger amounts of premiums from employers and employees, they used the excess. They cut EI benefits to allow even more of the EI premiums money to go to balancing the general budget.
Now we have Harper who wants EI to cover the self employed. Not a bad idea, but one that is fraught with difficulties. It looks like his plan would see current workers subsidize the plan. It looks like workers in Canada are caught between a rock and a hard place, between Conservative and LPC boulders.
Why is it so hard to get either of these leaders to stand up for workers in this country? Why do they continue to block EI changes that would allow people more time to find work, to pay their mortgage and bills and get by. Just a couple of days ago the big banks announced that 16000 Canadian households are three or more months behind in payments. That's a record. Its still a small number but an ugly looking trend.
The prospect of a fall election looks dimmer. Harper managed to hide his nine appointed senators behind Gary Doer, Canada's new chief lobbyist in Washington. He is managing to look moderate in the media and the public.
Well then, imagine Stephen Harper with a majority. It won't be a pretty sight. The LPCers will have only themselves to blame. They will blame the NDP for failing to fall into line and support the so called centre left. There is nothing left about the LPC save CB in Toronto and soon there will be nothing.
How do I get off this horse? That's the question Iggy should have looked after before he forced Dion out. The LPC choose this horse and now I must admit, I am mildly amused watching them vote against still another non-confidence motion. Seems they prefer the opposition benches as they are, no need to spend money they don't have to run in an election that Harper just might win again.
Better talk to Jack and the NDP. He was supportive of working together a while ago. But remember, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Jack may want a little more than a token cabinet seat or two when you come calling again.