Yesterday the NDP tabled a motion in the House of Commons that will deliver changes to Employment Insurance benefits for workers in regions of high unemployment if passed by Parliament.
"This motion is an important step forward for thousands of Canadians, the majority of whom are women and seasonal workers. It won't recast the entire EI system, but it will make a real difference in the lives of people in the places that are hardest hit by unemployment." - Jack Layton, NDP Leader
"It (NDP motion) will finally allow workers in industries such as fishing and forestry, women and seasonal workers to access the EI benefits they have worked for." - NDP MP Yvon Godin
The NDP motion will provide EI benefits for Canadians in regions with high unemployment rates (10 percent or greater). Benefits will be based on the best 12 weeks of income in the previous 52 weeks before a claim or the best 12 weeks of income since the beginning of the last claim, whichever period is shorter.
It seems to me that while the Liberals and the Conservatives are fighting, the Conservatives doing everything to defeat the government and the Liberals doing everything to stay the government, the only party in the House of Commons doing anything concrete is the NDP.
The EI motion will not costa lott of money over all, amounts to about $20 million on a $15 billion program. It will however make a substantial difference in the lives of people in communities with high unemployment.
The motion reads...
"That in the Opinion of this House, Employment Insurance benefits paid to Canadians in areas of high unemployment (10% or greater unemployment rate)
should be based on either:
the best 12 weeks of income in the last 52 weeks proceeding the claim, or
the best 12 weeks of income since the beginning of the last claim, whichever is shorter."
The Liberal government and Conservatives have a chance to make a substantial contribution to Canadians by passing the budget and the NDP amendment to the budget. The passing of the amendment is essential for reasons other than the investments it makes in Childcare, Education and the Environment. The real benefit is the precedent of the amendment if it passes. To my knowledge, no opposition party has managed to amend a government's budget.
Want Parliamentary reform? This is a good place to start. Pass the amendment and it will be harder for future governments, minority or majority to ignore such actions of Parliament. For once we do have individual MP's making a difference.