To the editor,
The News editorial “These are two different issues” posits that Employment Insurance (EI) fraud by claimants is a different issue from going “after the fat cats”. But is it?
Canadians are fond of pointing out our neighbours’ to the south apparent propensity to be geographically challenged. But Canadians, for the most part, are apolitical. The pursuit of being “nice” often trumps their desire for social justice. The Conservatives political opposition concentrates on a few members of the Senate thereby avoiding to cast a net over the Conservatives as a whole. To understand why it is important to do so a little background on the issue is necessary.
What are the real reasons for the dramatic changes in the EI program? Reading Brian Lee Crowley’s, Fearful Symmetry, will provide you with the Conservatives philosophical underpinnings of their EI policy. Andrew Coyne’s summation in the foreword states “It will require higher rates of internal migration, meaning policies that allow people to move to where the jobs are, rather than, as with ‘regional development’ policies, keeping people where the jobs aren’t.” This policy has the added benefit of playing to the Conservatives core base of support in Canada’s west. On the surface, reasonable arguments can be made for the exercise of this theory. But theory and practice are often widely diverse. Westward migration should provide the economic stimulus to make “regional development” agencies like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency unnecessary. If the unemployed move west, why would stimulus in Atlantic Canada be necessary? The reality, however, is that “regional development” agencies are being injected with record amounts of taxpayer dollars at the same time as voluntary western migration – migration that is damaging the economies of Atlantic Canada. Adding EI forced migration further compounds the economic damage to the region.
Concurrent with this the Conservatives, while being portrayed as fiscally responsible, are on a spending spree. MP Peter MacKay meticulously documents in The News just how extensive that spending is locally. Visiting the Canadian Taxpayer Federation’s debtclock.ca website should quickly dispel the notion of Conservative fiscal responsibility.
The question is how the Conservatives service this debt, which leads us back to the question of fraud. With the new EI rules and Service Canada investigators, they will retain more funds in the program. But where are these funds going?
When the Conservatives formed government they expanded on a form of EI fraud started by the Liberals. They “removed” $45 billion in accumulated surpluses. This fraud resulted in very little public outcry. With the new EI rules resulting in greater surpluses the Conservatives are free to remove it without repercussions or attention, resulting in more fiscal deceit (fraud) in the guise of fiscal responsibility.
Between dispersing corporate welfare to big business and mortgaging our future to big unions our provincial NDP government has fared no better in keeping our fiscal house in order. They should be subjected to pressure to force the Conservatives to reduce EI premiums to workers and owners of small businesses, the real economic engines of the province, that are staggering under the weight of westward migration.
Pressure should be placed on Mr. MacKay to stop the fraud and underline the human hardship of forced migration. If you are unemployed apply at his constituency office by phone and in person. Apply often and encourage friends to do likewise. With your knowledge of geography finding his office should be easy. I know you will be “nice” when you get there.