Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the bill I introduced. I would like to thank the members who expressed their support, and I hope that their parties will vote in favour of this bill.
First of all, I would also like to thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her judicious comments on the analysis that we have to do of the situation facing unemployed workers and the scope of this bill. The goal is to restore the employment insurance system to its former glory, to restore its original purpose, which was to help unemployed workers who have had the misfortune of losing their jobs.
Earlier, Mr. Speaker, you ruled on the need for royal recommendation for this bill. With all due respect, we disagree. Your decision was based on the understanding that there is a direct link between the employment insurance fund and the general revenue fund, whereas for the past two years, the two have been separate. The only link between them is the fact that the government can transfer money from one to the other when there is a surplus in one and a deficit in the other. That is why I am saying that the money in the employment insurance fund belongs exclusively to workers and employers, and that it is there to support wage earners who lose their jobs.
Some 54% of those who lose their jobs are not eligible for employment insurance, resulting in the phenomenon my colleague talked about earlier. By excluding people who should have received benefits over the years, whether it was under the Liberals or the Conservatives, the Canadian government freed up $57 billion that it used for other purposes. Now is the time to fix that.
It is very frustrating for those who lose their jobs to see how readily the government doles out money for such things as military equipment without any debate in the House of Commons. Two years ago, in the space of one week, it spent $17.5 billion on military and other equipment. We acknowledge that such things are needed, but we should realize how easy it is to spend money on war and how difficult it is to obtain money to counter poverty. The people we are talking about are living in poverty.