MP column sparks questions

Employment Insurance overhaul column from Colin Mayes creates concern

Recently, MP Colin Mayes wrote about changes to the EI program (“EI Overhauled” ). I responded at length to his notion that the changes are in response to apparently significant numbers of claimants who “choose not to work,” who see EI as a “business model,” who are “frequent abusers” seeking “handouts.”

Four other people from the community also commented negatively on Mr. Mayes’ column, some of them asking him to explain or retract his characterization of EI claimants or apologize outright for them.

Will Mr. Mayes be answering me and the other people who have written in?

I myself asked him a number of questions that I would also like to have answered.

Does this Member of Parliament understand that EI is an “insurance” program paid for by workers and their employers and that workers are meant to turn to it in time of need?

Does he know that unemployment rates in Vernon were more than twice those of the national rate – 15.4 per cent – before temporary seasonal employment kicked in?

Why should EI claim history affect the benefits of workers when the workers have no control over the labour market and the availability or unavailability of jobs?

Why are EI rule changes necessary when research shows that the vast majority of unemployed workers actively seek work, do accept job offers, and often accept much lower wages than previously earned?

Why have there been no programs announced for Canadian college or university students to help bridge their way into the Canadian labour market?

Why has there been no increased investment in EI-funded training which would assist unemployed Canadians to find good jobs?

Why has the government allowed employers to pay foreign temporary workers up to 15 per cent less than Canadian workers doing the same job, thereby making foreign workers more attractive to employers than Canadian workers and driving down the wages for all workers?

Why is our nation going to be brought to its knees through $5.2 billion per year in budget cuts while corporations have been provided $28 billion per year in tax cuts?

Does Mr. Mayes know that the food bank in Kelowna had 25,000 pounds of food trucked in from Alberta just the other day because applications for assistance have been up 12 per cent from last year?


Dianne Varga, Kelowna