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I think Ignatieff's on the right track. There is a moral hazard problem if we're not careful about people gaming the system. But it might resurrect consumer confidence. Right now, people are afraid to spend because they might lose their job and be screwed for income. Lower sales translate into employers actually laying off workers. It's a vicious cycle. But if we strengthen EI eligbility, maybe people will be less scared about the consequences of losing their job and return to normal spending habits.

I strongly suspect that this is a long-term play to try to break down CPC support in Alberta. There's been a lot of criticism here of late that - because of the tendency of workers here to swap jobs very frequently - a disproportionately high number of Albertans don't qualify for EI. If the Liberals can be seen as pushing for "pro-Alberta" changes, it might finally quiet down some of the "remember the NEP" crowd. Regardless of its economic merit.

Given that many households are liquidity constrained even with two regular incomes and it quickly becomes desperate if someone losses their job, I think it would make sense to shorten the waiting period before benefits kick-in. Maybe in periods of high unemployment it could automatically be dropped altogether. Doing so would prevent people from running up credit cards and using quasi-loan sharking services like The Cash Store.

Neil - I believe that the criteria is not contiguous hours for a single employer, it's X hours worked over some time period. Job swapping, if employment is uninterrupted, shouldn't have an effect on eligibility.

Here in AB, it's generally believed that CPC is bankrupt. A little PR to dispel that myth would be money well spent, IMO.

I disagree with Ignatieff. I think he should be focusing on net benefit paid, not time to eligiblillity. 9 weeks 14 weeks what's the diff? By lowering it to 9 weeks Iggy is just encouraging employers to devolop spotty jobs. What I would like to see is that if you do get laid off from your job of ten years, you don't fall to 55% of paycheck. Any additional amount would help. 60%, 65% 75%. My guess is that this is not being considered as it would be very expensive. But I have lived with the 55% benefit back in 94 and it was a bit stressful. Distracting from the job search really.

"But I have lived with the 55% benefit back in 94 and it was a bit stressful. Distracting from the job search really."

Trying being 'self-employed' and going to zero. That's loads of fun.

And self-employed happens more than you might think. I know lots of IT contractors who can only get contract work and they don't get EI if the economy tanks and that next gig is nowhere to be found. Neither do they get get pensions, health care benefit, limits on working hours (in AB IT workers are excluded from limits on working hours) etc ... White collar slavery. No wonder they flock to Ayn Rand and Ron Paul; Atlas Shrugged is a story of sweet revenge.

Anyway, I shouldn't get started...

A news blurb suggested the policy is tied to in the future harmonizing eligible hours across all regions. If true need to keep that in mind when discussing this.

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