Thanks to the presenters here today.
We are working on Bill C-50, an act to increase benefits for long-tenured workers, which is part of the comprehensive suite of our economic action plan. This is the broadest consultation ever taken for a budget, and it's the earliest budget implemented in Canadian history.
The fact that we have extended our EI program by five weeks has been alluded to--the work-share program. About half of Canadian workers who pay into the EI program are long-tenured workers. Roughly one-third of those who have lost their jobs since the end of January of this year and made EI claims are long-tenured workers. Department officials, who were witnesses previously at the committee, indicated that we're addressing this bill to about 190,000 unemployed people who have worked over the years and are now in a most vulnerable state. We'll continue to monitor the situation as we move forward.
I appreciate the CFIB's position. I used to have my own business, and I support small businesses. SMEs are the economic engine that drives the economy of our country, and we'll continue to work together--the risk takers, leaders, and entrepreneurs of our communities.
I understand your concern about the $57 billion. As Mr. Godin said, it's gone. It has disappeared. And we're dealing with the fact that regardless of who spent it--we can point fingers until the cows come home--we don't have it, so we have to deal with the present situation and build a stronger Canada as we move forward.
Mr. Reid, I was also a member CEPU at one time. I have the honour of representing Kelowna—Lake Country in the Okanagan, part of beautiful British Columbia. Our wood is good, and forestry is a big economic driver for our province. As Mr. Casey alluded to—the element of where we're going with this bill—a lot of the workers are in the forestry industry.
My question is for Mr. Casey. We've heard from the Bloc that they feel this bill will not help the forest industry. Could you elaborate a little more on how you feel, from your members' perspective, Bill C-50 will help the forest workers?