From the early reports I'm reading of the Conservative Party's rushed announcement on proposed employment insurance reforms (after a summer of offering nothing but hot air) I can't say I'm overly impressed:
The Tory government is proposing legislation to extend employment insurance by up to 20 weeks for long-tenured workers, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced Monday.That's all fine and dandy, extended benefits are good. But it will do nothing for the many thousands of unemployed Canadians that don't even qualify for the program. It does nothing about the regional inequality of a system with a patchwork of national standards; there's nothing on national or even fewer regional standards or on a lower eligibility requirement.
Finley said the proposed measures, which would cost $935 million, would provide from five to 20 weeks of additional benefits depending on how long an eligible individual has been working and paying into EI.
Finley said the proposed legislation is a temporary measure that will be phased out gradually as the economy improves.
These changes are fine, but there are months late and many dollars short. If the Conservatives were serious about EI reform, they would have brought these proposals to the joint Conservative-Liberal panel on EI reform during the summer.
Finley's presser today is an obvious attempt to make it appear the Conservatives are doing something on EI, without really doing much, going into an election. I would hardly call this a serious attempt at appeasing the NDP to avoid an election, as the Conservatives have done nothing to address the core concerns the NDP has around EI. Remember, the Liberals only wanted a temporary 360 hour national standard. The NDP wanted 360 hours permanently, and they chastised the Liberals for indicating "flexibility" on the number of hours.
Now, if the NDP does attempt to seize on this half-baked and inadequate Conservative proposal and call it a victory that lets them prop Harper up, they will be proven more desperate to avoid an election than I thought they were. And while I live to be surprised, I'd deem it unlikely.
No, there's nothing here that indicates Stephen Harper doesn't want an election this fall. And there's no fig-leaf for the NDP here either. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers