Madam Speaker, let me review what we have done on several points, including timely delivery of benefits. We do take the issue very seriously. Our government is taking real action to help vulnerable and unemployed Canadians through these tough economic times and we will continue to do so.
I would remind my hon. colleague that our government is making unprecedented investments to help those who, through no fault of their own, have suffered from unexpected job loss during this time of global recession. Among other things, we have extended EI benefits by five weeks. That is more than double the two weeks advocated by the opposition and members of her party. Those weeks will help when the help is needed the most.
We have extended the EI work sharing program. Thankfully, through our efforts, more than 120,000 Canadian jobs are being protected. That number continues to grow as we continue to work with Canadian employers to share costs and keep Canadians working as various organizations take steps to adapt to the changing economy.
We have also invested $1 billion for further skills training through the EI program. This includes $500 million in skills training and upgrading for long-tenured workers and $500 million for training for those who do not qualify for EI. With respect to managing the substantial increases in EI claims, we have invested more than $60 million to help manage and process claims quicker while cutting red tape for employers.
We have hired additional staff and added more resources to ensure that the system can cope with the demand that is being made on the system. We are monitoring the effectiveness of these measures to ensure that they are effectively helping Canadians.
That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the Liberal 360 hour, 45 day work year scheme. The opposition members can say what they want about this scheme, but the fact is that this is an irresponsible proposal that would result in a massive increase in job-killing payroll taxes that would hurt workers and businesses at a time when they can least afford it.
Do not take it from me. The Liberal member for Kings—Hants said that payroll taxes and EI taxes in particular prevent businesses from hiring people. He also said, “Payroll taxes, especially EI taxes, are a tax on jobs”. He said that on October 16, 1997 in the finance committee, and that is so true.
How the Liberals can claim that this 45 day work year is a good idea now is hard to understand. This irresponsible proposal will certainly not help any Canadians find new jobs or get new skills and that is what is needed. It will not help Canadians who have already suffered a job loss. No, it will simply add billions to the tax burden of hard-working Canadians and employers at the worst possible time.
Let us see what others are saying about this proposal. In the Vancouver Sun on May 26, Harvey Enchin said:
The Liberal option not only seems illogical but it would raise the federal deficit -- and probably taxes -- while doing nothing to address the fact that many of the jobs that have been lost are not coming back.
That is the issue. He went on to say:
The Conservative government is right to reject it.... The federal government is on the right track with investments in skills training and transition programs.
That is what we are doing. In spite of the irresponsible ideas coming from the opposition, our government will continue to help Canadians get through this tough time. We are doing it in a responsible manner. We are going to be sure that benefits are delivered when they ought to be delivered. We are going to ensure that we are using the funding to maximize the returns on those benefits and ensure that people have jobs not only for today but for tomorrow, when they become available and this economy turns.