Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Carol Goar points out why Canada's EI system is running surpluses (contrary to all parties' intentions) - and notes that the result has nothing to do with the best interests of the workers who pay into the system:
Flaherty’s explanation was true as far as it went. Employment has edged up this year. EI claims have declined. But the real story lies in what he left out.

A large proportion of jobs that have come on-stream in 2013 have been part-time, temporary, short-term, casual or intermittent. Last month, for instance, 41,800 of the 59,200 new jobs Statistics Canada reported were part-time. People who don’t work full-time seldom qualify for EI. (They can’t accumulate enough hours of paid employment to meet the eligibility criteria). But they have to pay into the fund.

More contributors and fewer beneficiaries add up to a rising EI surplus.

But that’s only half the story. The federal government has systematically restricted access to jobless benefits this year. It imposed a requirement that repeat EI claimants accept any job within 100 kilometres of their residence that pays as little as 70 per cent of their previous wage. It launched a crackdown on “false and inappropriate claims,” visiting EI recipients at their homes, unannounced, to check whether they were out looking for work — and grill those who were not. And it raised the threshold to get full EI benefits in all but a handful of regions.

These measures had exactly the effect the government intended: Payouts declined.
- Paul Krugman discusses the gap between a recovery for the rich following the 2008 financial meltdown and a continued slump for everybody else.

- CBC reports that an apparent tax dodge by Cameco is finally being challenged by the CRA.

- The Huffington Post reports on the damage the Cons have done to our knowledge of poverty in Canada. pogge reminds us that eliminating evidence to support evidence-based policy was the Cons' goal all along. And Mary Agnes Welch examines exactly how the destruction of the long-form census makes it more difficult to answer even basic questions about a community.

- Finally, Adam Chapnick's proposal for an annual federal leaders' debate would figure to go a long way toward encouraging greater citizen engagement and critical thought about political messages. But that's exactly why we shouldn't expect the Cons to sign on anytime soon.

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