I was in the government of the day. It was my private member's item.
I appreciate the member's intervention.
Because it is all in the consolidated revenue fund, there is no money in a bank any more. It has been used to support government programs and services. It has been used to reduce the amount of borrowing that the government had to do in terms of the national debt. Because of the debt scenario, we were saving money, but the rules of the game for operating the notional EI account also said that they will keep track of not only ins and outs of cash in terms of premiums and benefits, but also of the interest, and that was still a credit. All that money belongs to the employers and the employees who put money into it.
Now the current government has decided to scrap all that. We are going to throw all this notional surplus, we are going to take away the $50 billion that was collected in excess of benefits paid out, we are going to put it in our pocket and we are going to pay for the programs the Conservatives have been spewing out the money for.
How are they going to deal with EI in the future? In the last budget they said we are going to have an EI commission that is going to get $2 billion as start-up money. It will be a separate company, and all premiums and all payouts of benefits are going to go through that commission. In fact, we will go back to the same system we used to have.
Now we have a problem. Why? The Parliamentary Budget Officer said just yesterday in his report, which Canadians can read on his website, that we are in a structural deficit and that we will remain in a structural deficit until at least 2013-14, which means that if Conservatives proceed with setting the EI commission with $2 billion and think they are going to balance the books of that separate off-balance-sheet commission by handling premiums coming in and paying out extraordinarily higher benefits, it is going to force the government to start streaming cashflow into it just to hold it solvent and capable of meeting the benefit requirements.
We have come full circle. Brian Mulroney was operating exactly the way the current government wants to go.
The Auditor General has said that is not reflective of the true economics of a government that is using taxpayers' money to operate programs on behalf of the people and that we have to put it all in one big basket. Now the government has passed legislation that is going to unravel this. It is going to pocket the surplus that it collected from Canadians and accumulated in a notional surplus over the 10 years leading up to when the Conservatives took government. The Conservatives are going to just pocket that.
The situation could have been much worse. If the government had to take the $54 billion and put it into this new commission, $54 billion would be added to the current year's deficit. Then we would have a $100 billion deficit in the current year, rather than the $50 billion that it appears we are going to have, and it is growing.
Unemployment is not going to go down very quickly. We were over 9%; we dropped to a little less than 9%. The experts are saying that we can still go to 10%, that these recoveries are fragile, and the Prime Minister is already setting us up for that.
Members have to understand EI has a history to it. EI is an important tool for the government, but EI should not be used as a political prop, and that is exactly what this bill would do. Bill C-50 would not equitably benefit Canadians who have to participate in the EI benefit program that they paid into. They deserve to receive those benefits equitably. That is the reason I do not want to support the bill. My party will not support the bill, and I know that others will not either.
I hope that explains to the member that this is not just trying to make up stories. These are the facts. The current Conservative government inherited a $13 billion surplus from the previous Liberal government and it has been totally squandered. We now find ourselves facing a $50-$60 billion deficit in Canada due to economic mismanagement by the Conservative Party of Canada.