- In 1996 Canada had an unemployment rate near 10%
- It was at this time your Liberal party made changes to employment insurance
- Lowered the maximum weekly rate from $448 to $413
- Cut the maximum number of benefit weeks payable, from 50 to 45
- Increased premium rates for employers and workers
- Cut $2 billion out of the E.I. system
- Set 58 different standards for E.I. eligibility
- Set the lowest qualifying rate at 420 hours
- The maximum E.I yearly payroll deduction was raised dramatically
- Made new entrants or re-entrants to the labour market be required to work 910 hours in order to be eligible
So you see Mr. Ignatieff, at a time when Canadian's faced an unemployment rate 2% higher than today's, your party, the Liberal Party of Canada, made it harder to collect E.I., paid less, for shorter periods, and instead of putting those surplus premiums into job training, redirected those funds to general revenues, where we were blessed with such things as a canoe museum in Shawinigan, and three new Bombardier jets for the PM.
So the next time you are sitting in the House of Commons and start talking about being mean-spirited, you might be better off looking at the person next to you, or the ones sitting behind you, rather than the ones across the floor.
Update: Here is a great clip from a young? Peter Mansbridge on CBC in 1996: