Friday, May 25, 2012

Elizabeth May says she was repeat EI user


Iam not at all surprised to read that Green Party leader Elizabeth May says she was a repeat EI user. May seems to me to be just the sort of person who has an exaggerated sense of entitlement.

“When I needed it, I used it,” May says of the federal Employment Insurance program.

Apparently, she worked for her parents in the tourism industry from 1974 to 1983, and when the business shut down annually between Thanksgiving and the following Victoria Day weekend, May said she sometimes collected EI.

May did what many who work in seasonal industries have done for generations in Canada, and apparently, it is a fairly common practice in the Atlantic provinces.

But is this right? Should seasonal workers pay 1.83 per cent of earnings from the end of May to mid-October then collect 55 per cent of their average insurable weekly earnings for a period ranging from 14 to 45 weeks? And do this repeatedly, year after year?

I say no they should not.

It is a reasonable thing to have a national employment insurance program—backstopped by tax dollars—to protect Canadians when they lose their jobs; it is quite another to use that program to subsidize year-round employment for healthy, able bodied workers—even those who are not trying to find employment.

We may have done this sort of thing in the past for political reasons, but that does not make it the right thing to do. Most Canadians work very hard and pay a significant portion of their earnings in tax. Why should these tax dollars be paid out to those who chose to repeatedly work only part of a year and sit on their duffs for the rest?

Perhaps Elizabeth May sees some sort of justice in that, but I do not.

Picture credit: clip from the National Post
© 2012 Russell G. Campbell


  1. We have good friends here in Alberta who came from Newfoundland and most of their families are still there. They say that it is very lucrative because they work at seasonal jobs and then collect EI while running cash only businesses.For example -her brother is a cabinet maker and does whole kitchen renos for cash-no GST, no taxes at all.Others run a janitorial service/carpet cleaning-for cash, etc. This EI change WILL be painful for these people as whole communities operate in the Grey cash market during EI season. BTW-they can earn $40,000 and up during the fishing season and write off all of their expences before taxes so virtually pay minimal or no taxes.

  2. hey, it is the canadian way isn't it?

  3. I don't know if it's still the case, but all of the office staff (secretaries, etc) in BC schools used to be laid off for the summer so they could collect EI for July and August, before being rehired in September. Teachers aren't able to do this, of course (nor should they be able to), but it was somehow okay for the office workers.

    That's abuse.

    I've been on EI once, and it was awful. And stupid. While I was working I took evening classes at a local college, balancing a full-time student load with a 50+ hour work week. When I was laid off I was told by EI that I couldn't continue to go to school in the evenings if I wanted to collect EI. That I had done so previously while working was of no account. If I took classes, I was a student and therefore ineligible. It was ridiculous and counter-productive --but then it's government, right?

    A final thought: the biggest EI fraud in my experience is employers who layoff workers for 'lack of work' as an excuse to push them out the door without opening themselves up to lawsuits for wrongful dismissal. There's an awful lot of that going on, but nobody is interested in looking into businesses that use the carrot of EI to get rid of employees quietly. You know, those malcontents that bring up things like labour law, safety and environmental regulations, people that have the audacity to get hurt at work, etc. I know I sound like a crazy-lefty here, but in a lot of workplaces, if you merely suggest that something isn't up to code and should be addressed, some manager is fast-tracking your pink-slip. That's a huge abuse of the system.

  4. How come she could collect while working for her parents when family members are not able to get it in any other case. Also, you will find out that during those years she was going to university as a mature student, and again, students don't qualify. But she did get a reference from Gov Clinton upon graduating.
    Oh, and Cliff Robertson was her godfather.
    Her mother started a protest org, being the anti nuclear person she was.
    Did you know she started a political party while in Cape Breton, The Small Party and they ran 16 candidates in a federal election. Their platform-stop aerial spraying.
    She maybe received U.I. but if it was as a laid off/fired/bankrupt employee of her family she was not eligible. So, did she have another job that qualified her.
    Mary T

  5. Privatize it.
    Privatize it as you would car, life, home insurance . Premiums based on the level of employment stability and history. You have an option to buy it or not.
    Problem solved.

  6. It's all about OPM (Other People's Money).

  7. Since she has confessed to working for her family,which means she can't collect E.I.HR and SD should be investigating a criminal act call E.I fraud.
    Since she has confessed she will need to repay any monies fraudulently taken,also penalties owed to the taxpayers of Canada.

  8. Good piece, Russ. I read the original story in the NP this morning on my way to work, Yes! I said work, Lizzie!

  9. Russ,the EI act is pure pandering to the Maritimes,where EI is a way of life,has been for years.

    To deny EI to Maritime fishermen would be like cutting off transfer payments to Quebec,never going to happen.

    It's unfortunate, but in some areas of Canada, EI is a motherhood issue,and if the government made the rules more sensible, a good percentage of the population would end up on welfare.

  10. I never collected EI in 40 years of employment. Then I was packaged off by my employer and I had to claim on EI. I fought the package with a Labours Relations Lawyer, finally tripling the original offer. At the point I was paid my settlement, I had to pay back every cent of my benefits even though I was out of work for 5 months. I wasn't to impressed considering it was the one and only time in my entire worklife I'd ever claimed.....

  11. Not surprising. She loves govt programs including taxing carbon. She's just another lefty who thinks your money is everyone's money.

    Brad Maynard

  12. I am curious to know how much money people in these seasonal industries make.
    I don't know for sure but I'll bet some pay better for six months of work than I used to make in twelve.

    If I could have made fifty grand for six months of work fishing instead of the thirty two I made working twelve as a banquet manager, I sure would have taken that deal.
    And I wouldn't have worried about EI, either.

    By the way, what does EI have to do with the Green Party platform?