Liberals started the Unemployment Insurance benefits cutting in 1998

and the Conservatives continued bashing the unemployed…

Just 36.6% of unemployed workers are receiving Employment Insurance — an all-time low in Canada, according to the latest government statistics.

The new milestone, calculated by comparing the number of regular EI beneficiaries in the latest Statistics Canada report with the number of unemployed workers from the Labour Force Survey, follows a series of policy changes over the last two decades that have made access to benefits increasingly difficult.

In 1990, 83% of the unemployed received benefits, but it took a dive to 42% in 1998 — when the former Liberal government redesigned the program to make it far less generous. After further changes by the Harper government in recent years, the beneficiaries-to-unemployed ratio fell below 40% in 2012 for the first time in almost 40 years.



Stephen Lewis Rips Harper

LewisWorth repeating: Stephen Lewis told the Symons Lecture on the future of confederation:

Canada’s world standing is in free fall.

The Harper government’s contempt for Parliament and its traditions has degraded political life and fostered voter cynicism.

Its attitude to aboriginals is not paternalistic, it is racist.

Harper’s refusal to join the rest of the world and move toward renewable energy sources is endangering future generations and contributing to a looming planetary meltdown.

Civil society and the ideas it fosters have been slapped down and censored, subverting democratic norms.

“There is a radical ideological agenda gripping this country,” Lewis said, “but it’s not the environmentalists or the other targeted groups committed to the quest for social justice; it’s the political leadership.”




Watch Stephen Lewis rip apart the “absurd” Conservative family tax plan

Stephen Lewis is fired up.

In a keynote address to the Child Care 2020 conference in Winnipeg, the former Canadian ambassador to the UN ripped apart the Conservatives’ claim that their new income splitting tax scheme and expanded Universal Child Care benefit will offer meaningful help to families struggling with their child care needs.

That’s just “financial rubbish” — as well as “spurious and absurd,” Lewis told Child Care 2020, which wraps up Saturday.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with child care,” said Lewis. “Why would anyone allow them to sell that?”

Rather, “it’s a debate about tax policy. It’s a debate about tax benefits. It’s not a debate about child care.”



Lewis has a point.

A recent report from the Moving Child Care Forward Project found that Canada only has enough child care spaces for 22.5% of all children up to five years old; across the country, 69.7% of mothers of children between 0 and two years old and 76.6% of mothers of children between the ages of three and five participate in the labour force.

But a $160 monthly baby bonus won’t create one child care space, despite a price tag of over $26 billion. The Conservative tax cut, meanwhile, will see the majority of families with kids receive no benefit. And among those families that will qualify for the income splitting scheme, the benefits skew heavily toward the wealthiest families.

Together, this “Family Tax Plan” doesn’t go far in covering child care costs that are now as high as a median monthly fee of $1,324 for toddlers in Toronto.