Mr. Speaker, a member said that was a cheap shot. It is simply a point to suggest that I do not think many people in this place understand exactly who is going to benefit and how they are going to benefit.
If we do not understand it and we are debating the bill and we are going to vote on a bill that is going to supposedly assist some 190,000 people over the period for which these extended benefits are going to be permitted, how could we expect that those people would understand?
I came to the conclusion that it did not matter whether the people understood because it was not sold on the facts and the details of the technical part of the bill. It was sold as a concept that there are people who are hurting in this environment and the government is going to do something to give them temporary enhanced EI benefits. That is saleable. It is not what is going to be delivered but the concept is saleable. It is politicking. It is not legislating. That is the reason the Liberal Party will not be supporting the bill. It does not deliver what was advertised.
It does not matter to the government. The government really does not care. It does not care whether or not we understand that it is basically a very narrow benefit program and it is going to be extremely difficult to deliver. No one is going to be able to figure out whether or not they qualified and so they will have nothing to complain about.
It is a perfect scenario. It is kind of the perfect storm for a bill. The bill can be made so complicated that no one understands it and no one is going to be able to complain.
I listened to the debate. I spent all day yesterday listening to the debates at report stage. After the bill came back from committee there were three inconsequential report stage motions. They were voted on as a block.
The speeches that were given yesterday were speeches on the bill. Many of the members raised the same point that the human resources minister laid it out that it was a simple puzzle, but this is a complex puzzle.
There are a number of industries across the country which have an attachment to the employment insurance system necessarily because they are seasonal by nature. Examples would be the tourism industry to some extent, some aspects of the forestry industry, and certainly the automobile industry, where a plant will shut down for a month while it is retooled for another model. It is part of the system in which we operate. We need those people to be ready to come back to the job whenever the work is ready to go again.
We also have industries like the petroleum industry. The petroleum industry was booming. The price of oil skyrocketed. The commodity prices were going up, but all of a sudden, maybe as an overall consequence of the economic scenario we are in, commodity prices started to fall. All of a sudden the production of petroleum and gas products, in the west particularly, started to drop off and people started to be laid off. People in that industry had never been laid off before. The petroleum industry always had been a stable, secure employment base. As the rapid massive growth was experienced leading up to the commodity prices going up and the price of a litre of gasoline and the cost of a barrel of oil were going through the roof, more and more people started to leave other areas of the country and they migrated toward Alberta and Saskatchewan. House prices went up. The crime rate in those provinces started to go up because there were many more people, but the provinces did not have the social services, the policing or other things to keep up with the demand for those services. There were a lot of problems. They are still having a lot of problems. That is what happens when there is a severe economic shift and all of a sudden there is a massive movement.
This particular bill definitely will be of significant benefit, of anywhere from five to twenty weeks of additional employment insurance benefits for those who worked in the petroleum industry. They did not have a reliance on EI during their careers. There was always work. It was not seasonal work; it was around the clock, every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The petroleum industry was cranking it out. That is why, when we consider the availability of this benefit, it is clear that this particular bill will be most attractive to people in the petroleum industry, which is mostly in Alberta and Saskatchewan and which is mostly where the government support is.
I am not cynical; those are just the facts, and that is pretty good, but I wonder if the rest of the Canadians understand that of the money that will be spent to pay for the benefits that the bill will provide, it is disproportionately going to people who probably do not really need it. They probably do not need it. Even though they may have been laid off, they had secure full-time employment and no layoffs for years and years because there was no seasonal component. There was no layoff component. People had lots of high paying work.
The equity within the employment insurance system is being tampered with by the bill. It is not how the EI system works today.
Having said that, I would like to make a comment or two on the speech of the Bloc member who just spoke. He referred, as many members have, to the significant employment insurance surplus which exists. Members will know that back in--