February 18, 2015 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News
Global News asked to speak with newly minted Employment and Social Development Minister Pierre Poilievre to get his thoughts on our investigation into the labour and financial struggles plaguing Canadians.
He declined: “The Minister is in briefings all day for the next few days,” we were told last week.
So we sent questions via e-mail, instead, and received an e-mailed statement from his office in response.
These are the questions we sent his office:
1) Canadians are dropping out of the job market in unprecedented numbers. What is the government doing about that?
2) Women’s participation rate in the labour market has plateaued since 2006. How is the government encouraging more women to enter the workforce?
3) Fewer than half of unemployed Canadians – in some regions, fewer than a third – are getting EI. Do you see that as a problem?
a. If not, why not?
b. If so, what will you do to fix it?
4) More and more Canadians are working temp or part-time jobs. But EI penalizes them if they need it more frequently. Why? Isn’t this based on a job market that no longer exists?
5) What is this government doing to protect temp and part-time workers, many of whom don’t get benefits and are out of luck if they get sick?
6) We’ve spoken to many, many Canadians (and the statistics back them up) who are kept in poverty because of a lack of accessible, affordable daycare. Why won’t the government address that?
This is the response we received:
Our Government’s jobs plan for trade, training and tax cuts has resulted in one of the strongest job creation records in the G-7, with over 1.2 million jobs created since the depths of the recession. We understand that hard-working Canadians know better than the Government how to spend their own money and that’s why our Government has provided tax relief over 180 times since taking office.
We’ve also signed Free Trade Agreements with 38 countries, including the European Union which provides Canadian access to more than 500 million consumers and just last month our Government launched the Canada Apprenticeship Loan, which has seen over 2,000 Canadians given interest-free apprentice loans since January 1st, this ensures that they have financial support to upgrade their trade.
Despite the fear-mongering rhetoric by the opposition, our changes to the Employment Insurance system have been fair and flexible. They clarify the responsibilities of claimants to look for work while receiving benefits, as they have always been required. As long as workers meet their obligations, they will receive their benefits.
We take into account personal circumstances when determining eligibility and work will only be considered suitable if the recipient is financially better off accepting the new benefits instead of receiving employment insurance, access to transportation and child care will always be considered. We’ve also made it easier for Canadians to find local jobs, the new Job Alerts system has sent out 361 million alerts to over 659 000 Canadians since January 2013.
Let me be clear, our Government will continue to ensure that those who lose their job through no fault of their own continue to receive benefits.
It’s simple, we know that parents are looking for more choices with childcare and the reality is that we’re the only party that trusts parents with their own money.