The Commons: Smiling Diane -

The Commons: Smiling Diane

When you smile, the whole world smiles with you–sometimes


Diane Finley entered the room smiling. The Human Resources Minister is seemingly a firm believer that—as the lyric goes—when you smile, the whole world smiles with you. Or at least that the whole world is less likely to hear what you’re saying as threatening. Furrowing of the brow is to be avoided. Bright eyes are the order of the day.

“Today, I’m pleased to announce improvements to employment insurance to make it work better for Canadians,” she said with a smile.

“Today,” she added a bit later, “I’m pleased to provide details on our plan.”

The centrepiece of this plan: more e-mails.

Canadians, it would seem, are apparently at a loss. Some are unaware of where to find work. Others do not realize that their skills match job openings in other industries. But soon, through the wonders of modern communication, the unemployed will be more deeply and frequently enlightened.

“Currently, Canadians receiving EI benefits are only sent three job alerts every two weeks. These alerts come from the job bank, which only has about 20% of the jobs that are available. And we believe that this must change. As I said, we must help Canadians who want to work get back to work,” Ms. Finley explained. “As part of our announcement, we will be sending job alerts twice a day to Canadians receiving EI. And the job alerts will come from many sources, including the job bank, but also from private sector sources.”

Some significant portion of the $21 million set aside for improving the EI system will be spent on these emails. Though presumably these new expenditures will be easily covered by the billions saved from consolidating the government’s computer systems. Perhaps the consolidated computer systems will even make sending these emails that much easier.

There is also some business about defining “suitable employment” and what constitutes a “reasonable job search.”

Ms. Finley was eager to explain what this much was not about. “Folks, let me be crystal clear about something. These changes are not about forcing people to accept work outside their own area nor about taking jobs for which they are not suited,” the minister explained. “If someone on EI has a health problem that prevents them from taking an available job, then that job will not be deemed to be suitable employment.  That is, they will not be required to accept that job. As another example, if there is work available but someone on EI is not physically capable of performing the work, then that would not be deemed to be suitable employment.”

So what is this about?

“We want to help a roofer who goes on EI each winter apply his skills with a residential construction company until he can return to his preferred occupation once the local roofing season begins again,” Ms. Finley enthused.

If that is it, it is perhaps a wonder why it took Ms. Finley so long to explain what it is her government is planning to do. And why this hasn’t all been detailed in legislation.

“These improvements will introduce new, needed, common sense efforts to help Canadians get back to work faster,” Ms. Finley ventured. “That’s good for the economy, that’s good for employers and that’s good for Canadians and for their families.”

At the very end of the question and answer session that followed, Ms. Finley was asked if the government would be consulting with Parliament on its proposed changes.

“There is a consultation process that is required through regulation and we’ll be following that process,” Ms. Finley responded.

This was not much of an answer to the question asked, but Ms. Finley delivered it with a smile.


The Commons: Smiling Diane

  1. a) ‘We want to help a roofer who goes on EI each winter apply his skills with a residential construction company’

    If a roofer can’t work in the wintertime….what ‘residential construction company’ can?

    b) Sounds to me like the problem is with the Job Data Bank…a govt-run program. Although how sending out thousands more job listings to people who aren’t qualified in 99% of them will help, I don’t know.

    • Another point of view willing to speak on the elephant in the room.

      “My wife and I owned a restaurant in Halifax and had first-hand experience of the system. People would leave us resumes and then be genuinely puzzled when we phoned to offer them work. We apparently hadn’t understood the blindingly obvious: those resumes were strictly for the benefit of the EI administrators. Don’t try to blow the whistle on these cheats to EI, though; the people who administer it in Atlantic Canada long ago became complicit in the plundering of the system. The claimant is king and the local politicians who have fought for ever richer benefits for their constituents like it just fine that way.We had applicants who would only agree to be hired if we would promise to lay them off when they had qualified for EI. They liked to do their crafts during the autumn and sell them (under the table for cash) at the Christmas craft fairs. Now you know why there are so many bad crafts in Atlantic

      Canada: it is your tax dollars at work.

      Throughout the region, many employers keep people on just long enough to get them stamped up, and then lay them off to cycle more people through the system. The social pressure to do so is enormous, because a few months’ work guarantees each person a year’s income.In all these cases it is not lack of work that has sidelined these workers, but rather a settled habit of expecting to be paid not to work for part of the year.

      Ottawa has tried on occasion to place repeat EI recipients in full time work, subsidizing their wages to ensure no loss of income. Those experiments failed because no one would participate. The reason? Many do not consider themselves “unemployed” when they’re on EI. Benefits are just part of their annual income.”

      • yeah, I read the same annecdotes in the Ottawa Citizen a few days ago. I simply do not believe that this supposed situation applys broadly across the country.

  2. McDonald’s brings in temporary foreign workers because they can’t find local workers?
    What a joke! Only a ConBot fool would believe that LIE!
    McJobs are in such high demand by University graduates, I’m sure that foreign workers don’t have a chance to grab one of those plum positions!
    The University grads are still looking for jobs because “old farts” are hanging onto those jobs until they reach at least 67 to qualify for their pensions!
    Always punish those at the bottom of the heap because they won’t work for Third World wages, yet.

  3. I’m curious what this means for women who accept EI for maternity benefits? If I’ve had 2 children in the past 10 years, does this mean I will be forced to accept a lower paying job, outside of my field if I am laid off tomorrow? What ever happened to the gender-based analysis that has to happen for every piece of federal legislation? Maybe that was lost when the cut all the funding from Status of Women.

  4. She is smiling because there is not enough matter up there to realize reality.