Having avoided consultations with citizens and the provinces, the federal Conservative government will now be making it extremely difficult for unemployed Canadians to obtain Employment Insurance (EI).
Diane Finley, the Conservative Human Resources Minister, announced that the government will push unemployed citizens off the EI rolls and into lower paying jobs that may have nothing to do with their particular skill sets. Once that happens, even fewer people will qualify for EI. The changes will also put further downward pressure on wages by forcing EI recipients to take jobs that pay up to 30 percent less than their previous occupations, or risk losing their benefits.
The new rules redefine what constitutes a reasonable job search based on the Conservative belief that most EI recipients are lazy bums who game the system. Finley says the changes are meant to ensure that Canadians who routinely use EI will take jobs that are currently being filled by temporary foreign workers. But the Conservatives obviously want to punish those who are out of work while helping their rich friends and corporations. Most companies are not hiring full-time because they do not want to pay benefits or a living wage, and that is why many people cannot find suitable employment.
Of course, the government's well-to-do MPs will never feel the wrath of these regressive EI reforms. As Thomas Walkom recently noted in The Toronto Star, Minister Finley will receive a lifetime, publicly funded pension entitlement of $1.8 million if she loses her job in the next election.
It is clear that working Canadians are being attacked by the Harper government and its mean-spirited, out-of-touch policies. The Conservatives do not realize that a lack of job creation is the biggest problem in this country, not Canadians who have lost their jobs.