Mr. Speaker, of course, we are concerned about Canadians who are losing their jobs, and I am glad that my colleague has raised the EI entrance requirements. He has some explaining to do, because he has quoted a lot of people who disagree with the position he has taken. So I think he owes the House an explanation.
Let us be clear: Our government is absolutely committed to helping Canadians through this crisis, and we will continue to do so through our economic action plan.
The employment insurance program right now is working as it was designed to work by the previous Liberal government at a time when the unemployment rate in Canada was higher than it is today.
Of the 58 EI regions, 41 have easier access to EI than in October 2008. Fully 85% of Canadians have easier access to EI right now, compared to October. The system automatically adjusts. Interestingly, it is working as the previous Liberal government, of which this member was a member, designed it to work. In fact, it is working as my colleague for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour wants it to work, or at least how he wanted it to work last year.
He quoted a lot of people, but let me quote him, himself, in the human resources committee just a year ago. On April 1, 2008, he said the following:
When you reduce to a flat rate of 360 hours, the cost is pretty significant...keep the regional rates. This is to protect those people [in high unemployment areas].
He went on to say:
...it's a real concern that if you get rid of the regional rates of unemployment, and cuts have to be made, it'll be those areas that are hurt disproportionately, and we need to be very concerned about that.
That is his quote. That is contrary to the other quotes he was referring to. He was not in favour of the 45-day work year idea with the fixed benefit, like that proposed by his NDP cousins. He acknowledged the high cost. He said that we should keep the original rates because they help protect Canadians in areas that have historically or chronically high unemployment.