Wednesday, November 21, 2007

As the English say.. Merci Beaucoup

Ohh Mr. Chretien.. he brought out his old charm on the National tonight. He doesn't have to do that much and it reminds me of the good old days. Don't get me wrong, I like Dion and I fully support him with an expiration date of the next election, but for a guy whose speech has been such a topic of conversation, he smooth talks with not an ounce of sleaze. Icon.

To other things: this article on why EI is unfair to women is a bit misguided. Yes, I think in some ways EI reflects some of the disparities between the sexes in labour force conditions, but those problems are societal, not policy based. EI's not a social program that's there to right all of soceity's wrongs, it's an insurance program that's meant to support our labour force. Sure, EI isn't perfect, but some of the findings in this article are misleading.

First, a lot of women are in part time and non standard jobs so it makes it harder for them to qualify. Not exactly. As a regular participant in the labour force, an individual needs between 420 and 700 hours in a 52 week period. If you take the highest minimum standard for a regular qualifier, the weekly amount of hours over a 52 week period needed to qualify would be less than 14 -- not even half a full time work week.

How about this bit said: " When a woman does return to work after a few years, she is required to re-qualify for EI from scratch by working at least 910 hours in the most recent 52-week period." That's very misleading. If a woman takes time off to have a baby and collects maternity benefits then subsequently stays home to take care of her child, she has a year period before she'll need to have a minimum of 910 hours to qualify for EI. Until that 5 year period expires, she'll still need the minimum that falls between 420-700 hours just as someone who's had continuous labour force participation. I think after 5 years a new child would definitely be in school.

When people put out reports like this that don't reflect accurate situations, they're more than counterproductive. EI definitely needs reforms in terms of the weekly amounts that are paid: there are no minimum amounts and sometimes lower income individuals are left to survive with less than $100 per week. Sometimes job losses can't be avoided and throwing someone into povery because of that just doesn't make sense. I don't think we need to look at qualification becaus the hours needed are fairly attainable, but once people are on EI, we need to look at how they survive.

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