In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Supporting family values? Actions speak louder than words

Posted 4/30/2009 by

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The budget bill, C-10, which we all heard so much about in March was passed by the Senate. (Here is a blog I wrote about my difficult decision to vote for it.)

 

It was rushed and the Liberal Senators supported it on the condition that the Senate study the legislation further after it passed. This will give some insight into how the flaws of the bill can be corrected.

The contentious areas have been divided up and sent the appropriate Senate committees. One of the residual and important problems of the budget is its failure to correct EI problems. And one of the significant EI problems is that it tends to be stacked against women.

 

There are reasons for this. Women are more likely than men to have temporary, part-time, off-contract or seasonal work so it is harder to accumulate the necessary weeks for eligibility. Women also receive different types of EI benefits. Around 80% of men accessing EI are receiving regular (unemployment) benefits in contrast with 50% of women recipients. The five additional weeks added to the EI benefit package is important, but the change doesn’t address the issue of qualifying for EI in the first place.

 

These are problems that need to be fixed. The current eligibility criteria fail to reflect an understanding of the special circumstances of women who are more likely to take the ‘lead’ responsibility for children and therefore adjust their employment circumstances in ways that limit their access to EI. As a result, women are often surprised to find that they are paying premiums but do not get EI when they need it. I often observe times when our actions as a society and government do not fulfill the often stated idea of needing to support family values. This is one of them.

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