Flaherty Sucks up to Business Again

In 2008, the Conservative government set up the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, an independent body created  to set premium rates and to take the politics out of the process. At least that is how it is supposed to work.

That board which don't forget is a Conservative appointed board, called for an increase to premiums of almost 10 per cent on January 1st.  

Before anyone could act on the recommendation a private member's bil proposed by Bloc Quebecois MP Yves Lessard,  and hit the floor of the house. This bill, supported by the NDP, would have allowed anyone who has worked at least 350 hours, as opposed to the current minimum of 420 hours, to qualify for EI benefits. It also would increase the maximum weekly benefits to 60 per cent of earning, up from 55 per cent.

The  bill that would have allowed more jobless Canadians to collect employment insurance premiums at higher rate was defeated in a Commons vote Wednesday after Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff  made sure enough Liberals defeated the bill and he climbed on the finance minister's mantra about the cost of the proposed bill. 

MPs voted 147-124 to defeat the bill, which until Ignatieff's public change of heart had been given a strong chance of winning approval in principle and being sent to a committee for further study.

Once the private member's bill was out of the way, thanks to the Liberals, Flaherty announced that the he was going to ignore the Board recommendation and that the 2011 increase will be limited to five cents per every $100 of insurable earnings. He says, he limited the recommended increase after "listening and consulting" with business owners. 

What everyone conveniently  seems to forget is that the EI fund has a surplus. The government owes the Employment Insurance Fund over $60 billion. Most of that money was taken from the fund when the Liberal were in power.  

I guess neither Flaherty, nor Harper, nor Ignatieff thought to consult with the people who use the plan, the unemployed. My sense is that their message would have been slightly different from the incessant whining of business community leaders.

What really confuses me is why people actually vote for those guys.


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