Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stephen Harper Proudly Claims Credit for Job Losses

The latest Con talking point on EI - repeated among other places by Stephen Harper in today's Globe and Mail Question Period review - sees the Cons trying to prove their generosity by claiming credit for paying out an additional $5.5 billion in Employment Insurance benefits. So let's take a look at where that number comes from.

The obvious starting point is the Cons' budget as it deals with EI. But on its face, the Cons' "Skills and Transition Strategy" set out in January (which itself overestimates the amount actually going to EI recipients by classifying an employer rate freeze as a "benefit") only amounts to $2.7 billion.

So where does the extra $2.8 billion come from? Let's take another look at Erin's handy chart as to how the federal fiscal situation has deteriorated since the budget was released in January. And sure enough, the "EI Benefits" category shows a difference of $2.8 billion in additional expenses. Combined with the $2.7 billion number above, that adds up exactly to the number which Harper is so merrily throwing around.

Which leads to only one possible conclusion: by publicly taking credit for the difference in EI payments, Harper and his government are also proudly declaring their responsibility for the job losses which have caused the higher payouts.

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