Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' so-called reforms to the unemployment insurance system have been devastating to Canada's unemployed. These days only 36% of unemployed Canadians qualify for EI benefits, down from 87% in 1989.
In St. John's East the EI cuts are costing my constituency $50 million annually. In neighbouring St. John's West, in byelection country, they are costing it $56 million a year. The riding of Burin—St. George's is losing $81.7 million annually and Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte is losing a further $74.7 million. All told, the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador has lost over $1 billion in EI revenues since the Liberals came to power in 1993.
What have the Liberals given back? They have increased EI maternity leave from six months to a year. However, given that only 31% of unemployed Canadian women actually qualify for benefits, that is very cold comfort.