Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate it when members stay in the House when I am speaking.
Canadians understand as well that there was a separate bank account for EI, and it was operating on an overdraft basis; it was in a deficit scenario. The Auditor General told the government that it was a government program, that the financial performance of a government should include all its programs, and that this one shouldn't happen to be set up as a separate bank account. They rolled it into the consolidated revenue fund so that if EI operated at a deficit and everything else broke even, there would be a deficit in the government's financials for the end of the fiscal year on March 31.
Then the Liberals came to power and inherited the $42.3 billion deficit in 1993 from the previous Conservative government. It took three years to balance the budget. Then, all of a sudden, we had 10 years of balanced budgets with no recession. Growth was positive, employment reached a 30-year record, and EI premiums went down for 10 years in a row, year after year. The surplus money coming in was more than the benefits being paid out, and it continued even though the rates were going down. Why? It was because the economy was so healthy and because the job situation was so good for those years between 1993 and 2006.
Yes, there was an EI surplus, but it was a notional surplus, and there is legislation that guides how to deal with it. The legislation says that if there is a surplus in the EI account, or now in the notional EI account, we must do one of two things: either we must reduce premiums paid on a current-year basis or we must increase programs and benefits under the EI fund.
Some of those things happened. As a matter of fact, one of them was my own initiative, which was to extend maternity and parental leave in Canada from six months to a full year. That cost money, and it came out of the notional surplus, but there was still--