A little something is better than nothing

I hope this column finds you and your family well.
My first week back on Parliament Hill was very busy so let me use this space to discuss my views on the possibility of a fall election, as well as a new last-minute proposal from the government to help some Employment Insurance recipients.
In the days leading up to the new session of parliament, you probably noticed media coverage was dominated by a single question: would there be a third federal election in three years or not?
I am happy to report that the answer to that question, for the time being, is “no.”
Faced with their defeat on a confidence vote and with our prodding, the Harper government underwent a “deathbed conversion” and introduced Bill C-50 that would extend the EI benefit period for some workers who have paid into the fund over several years and drawn very little.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of C-50, the Harper government has offered yet another bill that looks great on paper, but does very little to help Canadian workers.
Bill C-50 would add five additional weeks to the maximum benefit period for workers who have been paying at least 30 percent of the maximum annual premium in seven of the last 10 years.
To qualify for further extended coverage, a worker would have to have paid that 30 percent for a longer period of time, and to get the full 20-week extension, they would have to have paid in for a full 12-15 years.
Another big catch is that such an extension only would be available to workers who have applied for benefits in 2009.
Those who have lost their job or were laid-off before this year will get nothing.
My New Democrat colleagues and I see Bill C-50 for what it is: a cynical attempt by the Harper government to cling to power and once again appear that they are doing something grand while actually doing very little to help Canadians.
We know that the Conservatives are as indifferent to the problems facing unemployed workers as they ever were, but their political maneuvering may have given us an opportunity to help some families get by for a few more weeks.
Since something is better than nothing, and $1 billion for unemployed workers is a better result than a $300 million election, I will support this bill.
While C-50 offers inadequate assistance for laid-off and unemployed workers, my New Democrat colleagues and I will use the time it takes for that bill to proceed through the legislative process to push for the adoption of 12 other EI bills that we have brought before the House—and which would make a real difference for workers and their families.
Our 12 EI bills will help laid-off and unemployed workers in a variety of ways, such as by eliminating the 15-day waiting period that’s presently required to get access to EI benefits, ensuring that everyone who pays into the EI system qualifies for benefits, and by further extending the benefit period for all EI recipients, not some.
After opposing the Harper agenda for so long, and still today, you can be sure any support that I and my New Democrat colleagues offer to this government in confidence votes will be conditional upon the Conservatives presenting or supporting meaningful legislation that helps our families get through this crisis.
New Democrats will not simply give this government our support on confidence measures as the Liberals did over and over for four long years.
We will make this government earn our support on a case by case basis while getting real results for you and your family each and every time.

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