Mr. Speaker, I am here today to present a petition on behalf of many people in Newfoundland and Labrador and from the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's that I represent.
It is a petition that calls on the government to acknowledge that we are in fact in a crisis in this country. The petitioners are looking for some measures that will see EI become much more accessible for those people who are losing their jobs.
The problem we have is that the country is in a recession. We are in a crisis. It is time that the government acknowledged that we really need to do something, especially when we have companies that are laying people off, sometimes through no fault of their own. We are finding a lot of people without employment. They need to be able to turn to EI.
This is a program that they have paid into. It is their money. They are asking to make that program much more available to them and for the government to recognize that this is a serious situation.
We all know that it should take 28 days to be able to access EI, once one has been laid off and had a two week waiting period. That is not happening.
In fact, in my riding we have people waiting as long as 70 days to access EI. In some cases, they then get a letter telling them that it is going to take even longer.
Then the government is telling us that it is putting in measures to try to make sure that this speeds up. That is not happening.
What we are asking for is the 360 hours to qualify and for eligibility to be standard in all regions of the country. We want to increase the benefit duration to at least 50 weeks in all regions. We want to eliminate the two week waiting period. We want to provide benefits that are at least 60% of normal earnings, use the worker's 12 best weeks, and suspend the allocation of severance pay.
The other thing that the signatories to this petition are asking is that there be more flexible, innovative use of EI work-sharing to keep people at work.