There is also an ugly side to this bill. This is obviously not a reform and any attempt to portrait it as such should be strongly rebutted. A real reform would have included the 1.4 million unemployed workers who have been left by the wayside. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that employment insurance is insurance. That is why it was created to protect workers who need it when they lose their jobs.
Over the years, the system has been tinkered with to make it more difficult to access, especially by seasonal workers and by people dismissed with cause or who decided to leave. The main rationale was that in times of lower unemployment, there are many jobs for the taking and EI benefits are not warranted in these cases. But that is not the case currently in a period of very high unemployment. Workers who have to move do not have the opportunity to do so during the periods when there are more jobs. And so they really need help. We have to extend the benefit period to allow people to get through the crisis, get back on their feet and hope to be able to find another job in the relatively near future.
What Bill C-50 does is give some hope to one in nine workers currently drawing EI benefits and buy them some time to get back on their feet or to see their plant, their mill or their companies restart their activities.
That is why we, along with the CEP, support Bill C-50 and ask that it be adopted as quickly as possible. We certainly hope that this will be a mere first step towards the real reform that the EI system badly needs so as to be able to help the millions of workers who really need this.