The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

May 20, 2009

Stephen Harper and the Economic Crisis


women may09

Ottawa (20 May 2009) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has released a new leaflet entitled Women, Stephen Harper and the Economic Crisis.  The leaflet examines the issues facing Canadian women during the current economic crisis.     
The lack of an early childhood education and child care program, the inequities that exist for women in the Employment Insurance (EI) program and the pay gap between women and men have left Canadian women struggling long before the economic recession began.  The Conservative government’s Federal Budget 2009 which was to respond to the economic crisis provided no support for women.  The economic stimulus provided billions of dollars into physical infrastructure projects and construction programs which are male dominated industries.  It did not, however, put money into social infrastructures such as child care, health care and community-based social services which are female dominated industries.  It is harder for women to accumulate the number of hours to qualify for EI as they are more likely to work part-time, non-standard hours and have extended periods of time away from the workforce to handle family responsibilities.  The extension of five weeks of EI benefits does not help women who cannot quality for benefits to begin with.  The Federal Budget did not provide or improve access to affordable child care which is essential in order for women to seek employment or retrain.  For female single parents, many of whom are poor and cannot afford child care fees, a universal early education and child care program is imperative. “Child care, EI and pay equity are just a few of the issues confronting Canadian women as the economy tightens. Governments must invest in social infrastructure which puts money into fields with high female employment and at the same time provides services which support our children, our elderly and our sick,” states NUPGE national president James Clancy. “During this economic downturn, rather than continuing to deepen the equality gap, the government must address the issues facing Canadian women and must ensure that women are included in the economic recovery,” stresses Clancy.

“Just the Facts: Stephen Harper misleads Canadians on Employment Insurance

The Facts: liberal_logo_main

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made several misleading statements about EI in the House of Commons yesterday.

“It is simply a proposal… to raise payroll taxes to the roof in perpetuity for workers in small business.”

Fact: There is absolutely no requirement to raise payroll taxes in order to increase EI eligibility. The Liberal plan for EI eligibility does not include any increase in revenue collection. Payroll taxes are frozen and Liberals support leaving them that way.

“The Liberal Leader… is making the proposal that a Canadian could work 45 days and collect employment insurance for a year and that would be the system in every region in perpetuity.”

Fact: You can only receive EI if you’ve paid into the system and been laid off through no choice and no fault of your own. EI is not, in Diane Finley’s words, “lucrative for (laid-off Canadians) to stay home and get paid for it.” The government’s EI policy allows for a variable length of eligibility by region – ranging from 19 to 50 weeks – and the Liberal proposal doesn’t change that. Liberals are making proposals that reflect the reality of the recession while Conservatives remain oblivious to the growing crisis.

“The proposal… would do nothing for the economy, for the recession today.”

Fact: Laid-off workers are those most likely to spend 100 percent of their benefits to provide for their immediate day-to-day needs – things like food, rent and transportation – providing direct economic stimulus to some of the hardest-hit regions in the country. For every $1 spent by laid-off workers, local economies benefit from $1.60 in economic spin-offs.

“Over 80 percent of those who are paying into (Employment Insurance) are receiving benefits.”

Fact: Under the current rules, less than 60 percent of unemployed Canadians who have paid into EI receive benefits. 150,000 more people would be eligible for EI under our proposal – which would provide fairness for nearly half of the over 300,000 people laid off under your watch since last October.

“We have an EI system that responds to market needs. When we have difficulties as we have now, the system responds – benefits increase, eligibility increases as well.”

Fact: EI only adjusts after the unemployment rate has risen dramatically – cold comfort for those who lose their job without EI benefits before the unemployment number skyrockets. EI was not designed to react quickly to the massive, nationwide job losses experienced under this Conservative government.

Five misrepresentations in one Question Period exchange leaves us with one question: why is the Prime Minister trying to divide Canadians on fairness for laid-off workers?  “


Harper Conservatives forget missing and murdered Aboriginal women

Harper forgets about the poor and needy persons now too.
“In a recent Whigstory (” ‘Government needs to grow up,’ ” May 14), Ignatieff is quoted as saying, “On a day when we’ve got record bankruptcies, we’ve got unemployment skyrocketing, all this government can think of doing is running attack ads on me…. This is the old style of politics. We’re in the middle of a serious economic crisis. This government needs to grow up and do its job properly.” Would Harper rather have an election than help Canadians? Is his heart really that cold?

The prime minister should act like a grownup and do the honourable thing. He and his MPs were elected by a minority of Canadians to govern in the best interest of Canadians. To date, he has not done so. He is the country’s prime minister and yet he turns his back on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society. He’d rather criticize and bully others than work together to find solutions to the economic crisis this country is facing.

Harper will have a pension when he leaves Parliament. He has food on the table, a roof over his head, a chauffeur to drive him around. Thousands of Canadians, especially in Ontario, don’t even know where their next paycheque is coming from, how they are going to feed their children, whether they still have a pension or whether they can pay the rent. ”

  The federal government outlined changes to unemployment benefits on Monday that stopped short of the sweeping EI reforms demanded by opposition parties, in a move that could bring down the minority Conservative government and trigger another election. The proposed changes, outlined by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley on Monday in Oshawa, Ont., include $500 million program for retraining laid-off long-tenured workers and an extension of EI benefits if applicants participate in longer-term training of up to two years. The $500 million was included in the Conservatives’ January budget.  Finley said the new program will help an estimated 40,000 Canadians learn new skills to find work in a different field.  Another initiative will help between 5,000 and 10,000 people by providing EI benefits sooner to eligible workers who spend all or part of their severance package on training themselves for another job, Finley said. While political analysts have raised doubts about a summer trip to the polls in the midst of a recession, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has threatened to push for an election if Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government doesn’t support his party’s proposals on EI reform.

Poor Tory record speaks for itself, no need for personal attacks: Ignatieff Sun May 24, 6:08 PM   DARTMOUTH, N.S. – Despite a stern warning that he will “mess” with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff insisted Sunday that his party won’t resort to launching personal attack ads.


Ignatieff hits back at Tory attack ads The Gazette (Montreal) –  HALIFAX — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hit back at Prime Minister Stephen Harper this weekend, in the wake of recent Conservative television ads

Tories outline EI changes amid Liberals’ election threat
You call that an ‘attack ad?’ Winnipeg Sun


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