Resources minister slags unemployed as inequality rises, poverty increases.
by Samantha Bayard and Ish Theilheimer
OTTAWA, February 4, 2013 (Straight Goods News) — Although Canada's social report card ranking has been dragged down down by poverty and inequality among children and working aged adults, Canada's human resource minister has called EI claimants "bad guys."
Last Friday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley outraged the opposition and organized labour in a response to Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP), who condemned the Conservatives for reducing EI eligibility at a time of widespread job cuts.
"With respect to the employment insurance program," Finley replied, "It is very important to note that, once again, the NDP is supporting the bad guys."
Peggy Nash says the Conservatives are ignoring the crisis of income inequality.
In the House on Monday, NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash asked Finley about the the new report, showing that, "Over the past 20 years poverty has increased for both adults and children. Yet Conservatives are cutting services, demonizing EI recipients and sending people onto provincial welfare roles," Nash said. "Inequality is growing and the crisis is obvious. Why can the Conservatives not see it? Why are they turning their backs on these Canadians in need?"
A new Conference Board of Canada survey ranks Canada 15th on the indicators of working-age and child poverty, receiving a D grade. "Canada has been unable to reverse the rise in income inequality — and poverty rates — that occurred in the 1990s," said the report. "Canada’s rate of working-age poverty increased from 9.4 percent in the mid-1990s to 11.1 percent in the late 2000s. Compared to its peers, Canada had the third highest increase in the working-age poverty rate during this period. As a result, Canada’s grade for this indicator slipped from a 'C' to a 'D'."
Nash believes too many Canadians are being left behind due to changes in the economy and government cuts. She points to, "A growing gap, and it’s a gap that’s been growing for more than 15 years. It's a gap that's seeing greater poverty among working age Canadians with a million and a half Canadians unemployed. We're seeing increased poverty amongst children, which is especially disturbing and even among seniors. So the issue of income inequality is going in the wrong direction and we can’t even get the government's attention on this."
Nash says the Conservatives are getting advice from the wrong places. "The people they're talking to are doing very well… but if you talk to veterans who aren't getting their benefits approved, you speak to people who paid into EI and then it isn't available when they're unemployed… they're not the people clearly that Minister Finley is speaking to. I was here in the House on Friday when she talked about people claiming EI as being the bad guys and that their whole focus is not making sure that people get the benefits they paid for."
© Copyright 2013 Ish Theilheimer and Samantha Bayard, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca