Iggyâ€™s EI Reversal
In case progressives needed another reason to distrust Michael Ignatieff, he just pulled the rug out from under Employment Insurance improvements:
Michael Ignatieff is reversing his support for a wide range of enhancements to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, saying they are too expensive and are no longer required.
The Liberal Leader attempted to provoke a federal election around this time last year over some of the very reforms that are coming to a vote Wednesday in the House of Commons, but he now says he no longer supports them. . . .
â€œWe supported measures when there was an economic crisis. We were in the middle of full crisis with a much higher unemployment rate. The situation has changed,â€ Mr. Ignatieff said.
The unemployment rate has come down from 8.4% in September 2009, when the Liberals tried to force an election over EI, to 8.1% in August 2010, the most recent data available. How does a 0.3% decline in the unemployment rate tip the balance from fighting an election campaign for EI improvements to not voting forÂ those same improvements in Parliament?
This modest decline in the unemployment rate reflects an increase in employment, rather than any decrease in unemployment. In both September 2009 and August 2010, 1.5 million Canadians were officially unemployed. By this measure, Ignatieff is flat wrong to claim that â€œthe situation has changed.â€
The Liberals had championed lowering the entrance requirement to 360 hours to make EI benefits more accessible. For that proposal, the issue is not total unemployment, but the number of unemployed workers who cannot access benefits.
In September 2009, there were 818,000 EI recipients among 1,549,700 unemployed workers, leaving 731,700 without benefits. In July 2010 (the last month of EI data), there were 672,200 EI recipients out of 1,493,100 unemployed workers, leaving 820,900 without benefits.
So, the problem that the Liberals said they wanted to address has actually gotten worse. Ignatieffâ€™s claim that EI improvements â€œare no longer requiredâ€ lacks credibility.