Mr. Speaker, the pilot project extending employment insurance benefits in regions with high unemployment will expire on December 9, 2007. My riding is directly affected, because the unemployment rate in the Argenteuil and Papineau regions is over 10%. The pilot project was launched to try to bridge the spring gap in the EI system. Every year, thousands of seasonal workers in Quebec find themselves in a vulnerable situation.
The employment insurance program remains unfair for workers and the government refuses to make the necessary corrections. The pilot project must therefore be renewed. The only solution is a sweeping reform of the EI system, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities and as proposed in Bill C-269, introduced by the Bloc Québécois.
The bill proposes increasing the eligibility period by five weeks, increasing the rate of benefits and improving access to the program. It also proposes a more equitable eligibility threshold, making it easier for women, young people and workers in vulnerable situations to access benefits.