The Harper agenda

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I would like to congratulate Russell Wangersky for his column in The Telegram on March 18, titled “Cutting holes in the safety net — on purpose.”

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the “Unemployment and Social Insurance Act,” which was designed to give critical support to the unemployed, their families and Canadian communities, we find instead the system is being attacked and dismantled by the Harper government. And they are doing it by stealth.

It is deeply disturbing to watch the Tory government make such destructive, harmful changes to the EI program — one of our country’s true social safety nets.

These latest changes to EI were contained in Bill C-38 — the notorious April 2012 omnibus budget — and done without any consultation or debate with Canadians.

You have to wonder why it’s even necessary to be attacking the unemployed when you consider the former Liberal federal government took $57 billion out of that very same fund!

Maybe the reason Harper and the Tories were so secretive in the federal election of 2011 about these sweeping changes was because his government wanted to put downward pressure on the wages of all workers.

Wasn’t it just last year that we found out about plans to exploit temporary foreign workers even more by having some of them work for 15 per cent less money than other workers in their field?

Instead of trying to impoverish unemployed workers we should be seeking reforms that benefit workers and their communities. That’s the kind of Canada I want to live in and leave for my children and my grandchildren.

The Harper government should rescind all 2012 and 2013 budgeted measures related to EI and improve EI benefits for all workers, including temporary foreign workers.

Wayne Lucas

president, CUPE NL

Organizations: Social Insurance

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • GINN
    March 20, 2014 - 18:22

    In recent years this province has enjoyed increased employment, wages & opportunities. Our tradespeople have returned home in large numbers and enjoy Alberta style salaries in many parts of Newfoundland & Labrador. None of these benefits were as a result of journalistic & union planning or work. It is about time that these people leave their biases aside and do something constructive for a change.

  • david
    March 20, 2014 - 10:28

    Addicts love their dope. 'Safety net' is the PC term for Newfoundlanders' dope ---- and you'd have to be one to deny it.

    • Joe
      March 20, 2014 - 13:28

      Director's fees, bonuses and lower taxes are the addictive drugs of capitalists.

    • david
      March 21, 2014 - 10:02

      So, to summarize: Directors should give of their time as charity, all workers should be paid simply for showing up --- not on achieving any objectives. As far as taxes are concerned, companies are lucky to have us as workers, let's punish them for tsaking such great "advantage" of people by hiring them,, right?! Obviously, you'd be in favour of paying more tax yourself. Given all we have to show for the obscene truckloads we give the government now, I am certain that putting even more punitive amounts of it to government is a great idea. It's one thing to be ignorant of commerce ... but to despise it with such white hot passion truly is "world class". A 500-year old society where virtually no one has evolved past dragging a (unionized) lunch box to the mill. That's not "capitalism's" fault ---- that's the fault of the outright REJECTION of capitalism.

  • david
    March 20, 2014 - 10:22

    When 'safety nets' become lifestyles, .they aren't safety nets....they're crippling, addictive drugs. And addicts can hardly be expected to see that.

  • Don
    March 20, 2014 - 09:55

    Wayne what this province needs are jobs not a social welfare system. Those things were put there to help in time of need. I am a Newfoundlander and like our ancestors had to get up and leave the province to find suitable work. There are many a family with broken hearts who had to leave. We have to do what we have to do. Our nation's focus has to be on giving and not always taking, and I do not believe for one minute EI should be used as a way to earn a living. To do this means instead of building a nation we are trying to find ways on sucking it dry, and that is certainly not building but destroying a nation.

    • Carl Marks
      March 20, 2014 - 11:16

      Don, what if everyone was employed? Employers would have to pay decent wages and provide benefits which would adversely affect profits. If, however, there is a pool of unemployed workers, employers can pit employed workers against the pool of unemployed workers enabling them to make the workers compete for low wages and benefits. Given that there are twenty unemployed people for every job, the system works out pretty nicely for the employers. Also, the ability of the employers to deflect blame for unemployment on the pool of unemployed workers rather than the system from which they benefit is an added bonus. Welfare supports are necessary as they act as a pressure valve on what could be a very nasty turn of events. Therefore, no serious capitalist would ever consider abolishing EI or social assistance.

  • Cashin Delaney
    March 20, 2014 - 07:18

    Who will the Liberal save, if not the uninsurable unemployed? Harper is merely providing his wings con tribution to a more robust future welfare system. I can't wait to get of the chronic cycle of EI/work, to settle into a stable, predictable welfare system that I can budget on, augmented by participation in the cash economy. in eight years, the blue team can fix welfare and give back 'labour insurance' to replace UI/EI.