Madam Speaker, I appreciate the sincere passion and concern the hon. member has shown for people in his community. I take his comments very seriously.
There has been a lot of consultation over the past while and extensive work has been done by the committee. A report was tabled recently in the House, which the department looked at seriously. A number of improvements have been made.
It is important to look at this in a broader context.
We understand that this is a sensitive issue and that there are areas of the country which have different issues that need to be addressed and we need to be more sensitive to them. It is for that reason that a number of measures have been put in place over the years, but most recently in 2005. We have come up with a strategy which tries to deal with the issue of the best weeks. We have decided that 14 weeks makes the most sense. It is a balanced and fair approach given the fact that this is a new pilot program. We will be testing it over the next three years with a view to looking at how it works and to making improvements.
EI used to be calculated by using the most recent 26 weeks. By going to the best 14 weeks, we feel that it is a balanced approach and that it will address the needs of seasonal workers who face more sporadic working conditions. It is a fair approach.
That is not the only thing we are doing. We have looked at other enhancements. In fact, we announced enhancements to look at this in a more comprehensive way. We have made it easier for new workers to reduce the number of hours they must work before qualifying for benefits. We also have taken a look at allowing people to work while on a claim. Therefore, they are encouraged to take up new work. This will allow them to work while receiving benefits.
There are a number of things that we have done. It is important to take a look at the overall package.