These are two different issues

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Much has been made recently in the Atlantic region about tightening of rules around qualifying for Employment Insurance benefits. But even those who feel the changes unfairly target areas of smaller population and few jobs would for the most part support an effort to see the system is not subject to fraudulent claims.

As some have already suggested, opposition politicians might be a bit too bent on semantics in charging that Service Canada investigators have been handed quotas in their hunt for fraudulent or ineligible EI claims.

Is Human Resources Minister Diane Finley hedging – or trying to cover up – her explanation that the figure of finding $485,000 each per year in unwarranted benefits is really a “target,” or an “objective,” as she phrased it Monday under fire from the opposition?

We don’t know off-hand how many investigators are on this task. But perhaps an average of nearly a half-million dollars for each is a reasonable estimate of the fraudulent claims we can expect in the system.

For anyone who has been in the workforce any length of time, and perhaps had to look hard for work, and maybe made some observations along the way, it won’t be a shock that fraud does occur in this sprawling, huge system of premiums and benefits – alongside unemployment rates that range from about six to 10 per cent depending on the province.

And for those hardworking stiffs: definitely, find those who aren’t entitled. We expect that.

In addition to the terminology surrounding this tempest in a teapot, critics have attacked the federal Conservatives over the Senate fiasco, the members who have claimed expenses they shouldn’t.

By all means, go after the fat cats there too trying to get more than they deserve. But realize this is two different issues, it’s not one or the other.

Canadians want a fair EI system – and, granted, some will argue new rules are too stringent in some instances. But shake loose as much as possible those hitching a free ride.

Organizations: Employment Insurance, Service Canada

Geographic location: Atlantic

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Recent comments

  • Smoke Not In My Eyes
    February 28, 2013 - 21:05

    Johnny. I don't know what you've been smoking. The jet you are talking about is Sobeys corporate jet. Seriously though. Do you know anybody who has ripped of EI? If you say "No", then I'll have to say your nose is starting to grow longer.

    • johnny smoke
      March 01, 2013 - 09:44

      Look again my friend the jet that comes and goes most often is a Challenger jet, Sobeys jet does not have canards on the wing tips, the Canadair Challenger jet does the Sobey jet is a 6 passenger jet the Canadair is a 14 passenger jet quite a difference in size. Maybe you should invest in a pair of binoculars like I did, they are not expensive, and can be used for looking into other items as well. I have to admit that I do know some who ripped off E.I. their names are Chretien, and Martin to the tune of some $50 billion bucks I am told, but then they were looked upon as honorable folks, not like the petty riff raff that like to feed their kids, while our senators and politicians fly across the country to visit their kin and stuff their faces in the process. Do you have any more inaccuracies in need of correction?

  • Johnny smoke
    February 27, 2013 - 17:38

    I read about the great senatorial heist, then I read about the diddly squat amounts of E.I.that are being squandered. Then I go outside and observe the challenger jet zooming overhead returning our local M.P. from his worldly tours and shake my head. Is this the best that this or any government can do? It is like these people never paid mandatory contributions to the E.I. fund. Remind me what the senators paid into their pot of gold, remind me what our M.P. paid in order to obtain his own airline, I have a short memory , I also have no tolerance for hypocrisy regardless of the source,

  • Bob in N.S.
    February 27, 2013 - 11:54

    What a joke. The last line in the article states to shake loose as much as possible those hitching a free ride. Stated that way any federal government is guilty of that very thing because of the appropriation of our EI funds and placed into general revenue funds. You can call that appropriation if you wish,but the fact is the government was able to steal money belonging to the workers and put it to their own greedy needs.So who exactly is getting a free ride?

  • BDS
    February 27, 2013 - 08:50

    One of our children had to go on EI for the first time this winter as the job taken last year is seasonal. On applying for EI she was told she had to apply to 3 places every week in order to qualify for EI. She has done this faithfully and went to several interviews, but all of them want fulltime employees. At one interview the manager apologised for wasteing her time. Employers are indeed wasteing their time if they have to interview dozens of people who have no intention of working full time because they have a job to go to when the season opens.. This also gives the employee a bad reputation if they do take the job and then quit to go back to the seasonal job they love. One EI representative went so far as to tell our daughter she should go live somewhere else so she could try to get a job. Our daughter asked her with what money was she supposed to pay rent and food as EI does not come near to covering the cost of living on your own without a job. As I see it seasonal work is a fact of life in Canada just as the weather and seasons make it so, so stop penalizing the seasonal workers and go after those who don't, and won't work for a living and let the seasonal workers have their work, otherwise there will a lot more EI and welfare out there as the seasonal employers will have to shut down or leave our areas.

    • JLM
      February 27, 2013 - 14:17

      In these difficult financial times, I find it hard to fathom ANYONE throwing away a perfectly good full-time job because they're waiting for their seasonal work to return. Seriously? Perhaps this is the reason why the government is being forced to crack down on EI abuse - why should the rest of us fund this program for people unwilling to take work when it's available?? EI is supposed to be assistance in hard times, not relied on because someone PREFERS their seasonal work.