Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-357 which is the Bloc Québécois bill to amend the Employment Insurance Act.
Employment insurance is fundamentally important to working people in Canada. Work is central to our lives. It is not only about the money that we get to support ourselves and our families, it is about our self-worth, it is about who we are as people.
My experience in talking to many working people over the years is that job loss is absolutely devastating to a worker. Any support or any help that workers can get to ease that transition from unemployment back into a paying job is money well spent.
We have been through massive changes in our economy over the last decade or more. We have seen tremendous transitions in new technology, changes in manufacturing, and many thousands and thousands of workers have been through this period of unemployment and had to scramble and find their way back into a job.
Unemployment insurance, as it was originally structured, is designed to help cushion that transition, so that workers can make their way from the job they just lost and get into a new job. Any insurance plan, whether it is for a house, or a car or anything else, is a plan where we pay a premium and then get a benefit. When we pay the premium, we know exactly what the rules are and know we are going to be able to get that benefit.
However, that is not how it works with employment insurance. It is an anomaly to call this insurance because it actually provides very little insurance. In the 1990s of course deficit cutting was the order of the day. There were many cuts to all kinds of programs more aggressive than needed to happen in order to eliminate the deficit, and many people suffered.
The previous government under finance minister Martin made major cuts to many social programs and--