Madam Chair, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from London—Fanshawe.
I will make a brief introduction and then I will ask some questions.
As New Democrats, as a progressive party, we have worked constructively on finding solutions to help people from the start of the pandemic. We proposed an emergency benefit of $2,000 and successfully made it happen. Initially, self-employed workers, students and freelancers were excluded, but we pushed to have them included. This really helped people.
In light of the current situation, we asked that the CERB be extended for people who still need help, including those who work in tourism, arts and entertainment and hospitality. The government partially answered our call. At least we made progress and managed to get eight more weeks.
We have come to realize that our social safety net is full of holes. At the beginning of the crisis, employment insurance was inadequate for meeting the needs of people who were losing their jobs. The emergency benefit was launched. However, some day we will have to consider improving the social safety net so that no one slips through the cracks. We have to look at having a broader, more robust employment insurance system that would cover more workers.
At the beginning of the pandemic, only 40% of workers who contribute to employment insurance were getting enough hours to collect employment insurance benefits.
I would like the government to say a few words about its intention to expand the program to make it far more inclusive and target all sectors as well as every worker who needs help when they lose their job.