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Commentary

EI² = PSA

Mon, March 30, 2009   |   Author: Jim Hnatiuk   |   | Share: Facebook | Twitter   

The number of laid-off Canadian workers continues to escalate. It is reported that about 300,000 Canadian jobs have been lost in the past four months. Statistics Canada recently put the nation's jobless rate at 7.7 per cent last month—the highest level in over five years.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said that he expects this economic crisis to continue to worsen before the global recession begins to abate.

The Conservative government announced last Tuesday that it is spending $60 million to hire additional experienced staff to process claims more quickly and that it will extend the period of coverage by five weeks. They are bringing back retired employees due to our government's failure to plan for this event by ensuring there was staff trained to deal with it.

The opposition parties say they would like to see the Employment Insurance (EI) system revamped further, to include the many part-time and self-employed workers who are ineligible for benefits.

Where were these plans more than a year ago when this economic crisis was forecast? Where are the results of the studies that should have been underway to plan for a crisis which was inevitable? Now, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley must work overtime to adjust to the rapidly changing employment conditions.

Our leaders failed to lead and now they are playing a game of 'Catch Up'!

CHP Canada has a plan. We weren't caught unprepared!

The CHP would like to see the EI system revamped, but unlike anything the opposition or government have proposed.

The CHP would move to a Personal Security Account (PSA) as was proposed by Dr. Robert Thomson back in 1980. This method of handling employment issues would have better provided for this present crisis, as it has done in Chile where this model was adopted over 20 years ago.

Beginning with their first job, individuals and their employers would each contribute 5% to their PSA, just as we do now for EI and CPP, and in Ontario, Healthcare. This money is saved in an account that specifically belongs to that individual. When needed, the individual may withdraw needed funds from their account.

Had this plan been in place, funds would have been available to carry people through the 2 week waiting period required to collect EI. Those newly unemployed would be able to withdraw up to a maximum of 15% per year from their PSA, after which, government assistance would kick in and provide support if it were needed.

This plan would ensure that, during times of crisis, people have immediate access to funds to tide them over. The withdrawal of 15% per annum in any time of need would not significantly affect the balance in the account, with 85% always remaining.

An added benefit of this policy would be to decrease abuse of the system, since individuals would be responsible to self-insure themselves up to 15% of their PSA. Building safeguards against abuse is an obvious necessity of any government assistance program. Unfortunately, the current system is rife with abuse, something the current proposals of the opposition parties would only worsen. The CHP strongly advocates personal responsibility and accountability of Canadian citizens, coupled with compassion in times of need.

The question remains, will our government act for the long-term benefit of all Canadians and help build a better plan for the future of Canadian workers?



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