Mr. Speaker, on February 25 you made a statement with respect to the management of private members' business. In particular, you raised concerns about five bills that, in your view, appeared to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. One of the bills you mentioned was Bill C-280.
I am, therefore, rising on a point of order regarding Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits).
Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that Bill C-280 contains provisions that would change the purposes of the Employment Insurance Act, which would require new spending and, therefore, would require a royal recommendation.
Bill C-280 would lower the threshold for becoming eligible for employment insurance benefits. The bill would introduce a new benefit rate calculation method of the best 12 weeks in the past 12 months, reduce the qualifying period before receiving benefits and remove the distinctions made in the qualifying period on the basis of the regional unemployment rate.
The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development estimates that the measures contained in Bill C-280 would cost a minimum of $2.3 billion per year.
Precedents demonstrate that the proposed changes in Bill C-280 would require new spending for employment insurance benefits not currently authorized under the Employment Insurance Act.
On March 23, 2007, the Speaker ruled, in the case of Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), which is identical to Bill C-280:
...the changes...envisioned by this bill include lowering the threshold for becoming a major attachment claimant to 360 hours, setting benefits payable to 55% of the average weekly insurable earnings during the highest paid 12 weeks of the 12 month period preceding the interruption of earnings, and removing the distinctions made to the qualifying period on the basis of the regional unemployment rate. ...would have the effect of authorizing increased expenditures...in a manner and for purposes not currently authorized.
In the same ruling, the Speaker concluded:
...those provisions of the bill which relate to increasing employment insurance benefits and easing the qualifications required to obtain them would require a royal recommendation.
Bill C-280 is identical to Bill C-265 from the 39th Parliament, which was found to require a royal recommendation. Therefore, I submit that Bill C-280 must also be accompanied by a royal recommendation.