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More Conservative antagtonism towards the social safety net revealed

You might remember that Prime Minister Harper in his 2008 year end speech rejected the idea of expanding Employment Insurance benefits during these tough times, claiming that was “paying people not to work“. In essence, as I said back in that blogpost, he was trying to equate EI to welfare payments, and paint people who have lost their jobs as collecting money to party, as one commentator put it.

If you have any doubt about the antagonism toward EI that the Conservatives hold, you just need to go and read the comments left by Monte Solberg, former MP of the Reform/Conservative Party, and former Conservative Cabinet Minister. when he calls EI “a government mandated pyramid scheme“, and tries to paint it as being no different then what Bernie Madoff did, a US Wall Street financier who stands accused of bilking billions of dollars from investors. Solberg then does an echo of Herbert Hoover (he was a Republican President during the Great Depression and rejected stimulus packages or other spending measures to help the economy or to help people), when he states that all it should take to get through these tough economic times is that people need to have a better work ethic and work harder.

What? All the people who are on the unemployment lines who got thrown out of work by their employer closing down plants or laying off people are there because they didn’t work hard enough, and therefore are ripping off the government by collecting EI payments? They are living high off the hog from their EI they are collecting, Monte?

This is just an echo of Harper again, where Solberg is trying to equate EI to welfare and demonizing people who need to use it as living high off the hog – another Conservative carrying over the neo-conservative views of former Ontario premier Mike Harris, who was legendary for stomping over the poor and unemployed in both words and deeds.

With all due respect Monte, you don’t know of what you speak, and I’m glad you’ve retired out of government. I do thank you though for continuing to highlight the uncaring unsympathetic demonization of those people thrown out of work that the Conservatives hold. It’s good quote material to show how much the social safety net is viewed with contempt by the Conservatives.


17 comments to More Conservative antagtonism towards the social safety net revealed

  • EI does not reward people unwilling to work. You’re only eligible if you lose your job through lay offs. It’s also an insurance system as pointed out by Jan. Workers have paid into the plan to have protections.

    As for Solberg and training, did he not familiarize himself with the dozens of training programs that exist at Human Resources when he was minister? Again, no amount of re-training is going to help if there are no jobs to go to.

    Didn’t Harper insult unemployed voters with a quip about moving to Alberta for a job during the last election? I can’t believe we are headed for one of the hardest recessions yet with Harper at the helm.

  • And to build on Raphael Alexander’s above post, it is why instead of blowing up EI, it needs to be placed out of reach of the govt of the day, and run like an insurance scheme. I think the Cons are pissed that they don’t they the kitty to spend on their own pet projects.

  • E.I. is a Liberal slush fund that started with Paul Martin and ended with a $54 billion surplus. They also made it more difficult to get E.I., necessitating the so-called coalition’s manifesto that proclaimed an easier way to collect. Some selling point. Advertise easier E.I. rates and pass it off as something the Conservatives did.

    As for E.I., it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars since it takes 6 weeks to collect, and then only provides 55% of your income. If you live on that you might just be ready for welfare anyway. And now, guess what? E.I. payroll deductions are going up to $90 extra this year. So while you’re busting ass in the economy, the government is increasing that $54 billion surplus, thus completing the Liberal Martin legacy of steal and spend.

  • Jay

    Well, I think the cons want people to lose everything they have during recessions. It allows richer people to buy up property really cheap amongst other things. Remember it was Harper himself who said its a good time to buy stocks when asked if we were going into recession. A lot of complaints on the neo-con side has more to do with them not being able to take advantage of people who lost their jobs/homes, etc than helping them. Canada couldn’t have elected a worst government in a recession period. If the cons get their way, the rich WILL become richer and everyone else will be thrown under the bus.

  • Northern PoV

    Funny – if one were to produce a “hierarchy of the deserving” (a most Conservative concept I am sure) surely the recently employed, (and now unemployed due to a global recession) would rank fairly high.

  • I was without notice laid off a few months ago. In this economic climate – or maybe it’s my age – I am having no luck securing employment at even half of what I used to make. And, I can tell you EI benefits barely cover the necessities. I don’t think Harper and the Con’s philosophy is helping at all. I just wish these people would work as hard on stimulating the economy and opening up the job market as they do trying to denigrate those who have succumbed to job cuts.

  • EI has been spent on re-training for years. There has to be jobs to re-train for though, right?

    “True conservatives” — whatever… I thought many of those CEOs were exactly that.

  • “Seems like reasonable points for a program that was set out to establish bridge-funding *between jobs* that would provide for a family or single person.”

    More realistic people who know the history of EI would suggest that EI was created to protect people from capitalism’s “built-in troughs”, like the Great Depression of the 1930s. See They call that the business cycle. In the mid 90s, there was this bull belief that we would have never ending growth and have little turbulence (neoliberal policies), and with that crap, EI was rejigged, to fit the “new global economy” of “just in time workers”. It became leaner and meaner.
    The fact of the matter is that workers and their employers pay into this insurance scheme, and it should be administered at arms length from govt – to keep their hands out. It’s the same as the skimming off of surplus pension benefits by businesses.
    Scott and I are on the same page on this one.
    Historical note:

    Since that time period, EI has been greatly reduced by both conservative and liberal govts combined, so that it’s a lot harder to collect. The liberals as we all know, used as a cash cow and drained it. Since 1990s, the federal govt does not top up this fund, so they should keep their grubby paws off of it.

  • Say What

    Mark, true conservatives are as angry about what some CEO’s receive as pay and benefit packages, as anyone.

  • Say What

    That was why he included re-training, Scott.

    One government program called EI cannot hold up an entire industry that is in trouble.

    Do we know that a stimulus package is going to help the auto sector?

    Why would we put money into that, if they suspect it is going to be useless?

    A troublesome question for many these days?

    We only hear the loud demand for financial funding through loans or plain old bailouts, since we are so tied to what happens south of the border.

    No one seems to have the answer to your question about where this industry is going to find itself. That does not surprise us either.

    But, however it goes, those employees will receive EI, and can buffer their next move, whatever that is for them.

    Many families have had to swallow that very difficult pill when their jobs disappeared or failed them.

  • Meanwhile, CEO pay is way up, outstripping GDP and profit growth:

    In the first 9 hours of this year, these Captains of Industry each make more than I do all year.

    Neocon monetarist policy is based in part upon having an excess labour pool. Even neocon darling Milton Friedman advocated EI-like plans to deal with this.

    In recessions the problem is even more marked.

    Solberg just wants Canada to have a convenient, mobile and cheap surplus labour pool.

    Those CEOs need more money, you know.

  • Say What

    What Monte Solberg *did* say:

    “Without a doubt EI should be changed. It should provide incentives for workers to stay employed and for employers to keep them employed. There should be incentives to re-train and to relocate for new jobs. Benefits should be the same across the country. There should be rewards for those who remain employed. There should absolutely be a two-week waiting period.”

    Seems like reasonable points for a program that was set out to establish bridge-funding *between jobs* that would provide for a family or single person.

    • As someone else said, “Retraining is great if there are actual jobs to go to, but that is the bad thing about depressions, there is little or no “paid work” available”.

      Can you explain to me what exactly the government could offer as incentives to all these plants that are closing down in SW Ontario and moving to the US or Mexico to prevent them from closing.. or how exactly the workers could stay employed if the company did so? The government’s stimulus package to the auto sector is also not going to prevent thousands of job losses… so I think you and Monte are being non-sensical with that approach.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, we know what Monte is doing. Not much as it turns out. It’s all on his suspiciously leadership-run-styled site,

    “Today Monte is a columnist for Sun Media, frequently appears on television as a political commentator, and is a popular speaker. As a speaker he draws on his experience as an MP and Minister and speaks on; Why Canada Needs Citizen’s, not just in name but in deed.; on the Challenges and Opportunity of Labour and Skills Shortages, and also Why The Future Belongs to Canada.”

  • Anonymous

    What’s Monte doing now anyway? On pension? Collecting EI? Lobbying?

  • I read that this morning & was appalled. Really got my blood boiling. It’s not like he’s “leeching” off the govt. now is it? After all “we” are STILL paying him his income & will till the day he dies. He hasn’t a clue – just like most of the rest of the Cons. Scumbags – kick a person when they’re down. GRRRRR!

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