Premiums, payouts just distort books

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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EI regions

Editor: This letter is in response to ‘EI Changes Reflect Reality ...’ Minister Shea, Monday, March 17.

While Minister Shea targets her letter against “the wild speculation on employment insurance change”’ she then goes on to purposely confuse, playing loosely with numbers from some 18 years ago.

The new zones in P.E.I. basically rob Peter to pay Paul, creating greater benefits for one at the expense of another, even if they work within the same facility in the same seasonal industry.

Under the five-week pilot, cancelled by Shea and Harper’s wrecking crew, approximately $11 million annually in EI benefits is lost to workers on layoff and the Island economy. Add in the monies taken right out of worker’s pockets with the new working on claim clawback, an additional $2 million to $3.4 million is clawed back by the feds. This has an astounding impact on our economy and workers.

The new zones basically trade money within the province, and the best number crunchers I can find at the most claim it will add $600,000 to the economy. Leaving the Island economy short $12.5 to $14 million, from where we were, does not seem to be the best for P.E.I.

The minister is less than forthright in saying “the EI find is separate and not part of general revenue.” The truth is the EI premiums/benefits are stated in the budget, are a part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and are actually applied against the government’s overall deficit.

Monies have to be spent for purposes stated in the Specified Purposes Account, but are used to pad the books and improve the government’s current deficit position. In essence, premiums are higher than they should be (or payouts less) to make the government’s books look better. For 2014-15 premiums are $22.7 billion and benefits are $17.7 billion meaning $5 billion will be applied (but not spent) against the deficit.

In my view, Harper continues to show his contempt for Atlantic Canada with this new policy, supported by the minister. These changes divide Islanders, and hurt the P.E.I. economy.

Wayne Easter,

MP Malpeque

Organizations: Consolidated Revenue Fund

Geographic location: P.E.I., Iceland, Atlantic Canada

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