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The recession not over, and some EI 360 hr cost spin from the Cons.

This morning, I take a look a some very bad job figures that seem to completely contradict the Bank of Canada and the Conservative government declaring the recession over, as well as some extraordinary bad faith cost estimates the Conservatives did with the Liberals EI 360 hrs proposal.

First off, the Conservatives and the Bank of Canada declaring a bit ago that the recession was more or less over appears to be optimistic at the least, and more likely political spinning, or worse:

More Canadians lost their jobs in July than expected as employers continued to cut workers even though the economy is believed to be on the mend after its worst recession since the early 1990s. Statistics Canada said on Friday the economy posted net job losses of 44,500 in the month, nearly three times the consensus forecast.

For some market analysis of these numbers, check one Bay St. analyst’s assessment over at Warren’s. He’s not very impressed.

Now on to the Employment Insurance Commission panel, which Maclean’s Aaron Wherry summarizes by quoting from two different news reports. The first news report says this:

A federal Liberal proposal to slash the minimum work requirement to qualify for employment insurance benefits to 360 hours across the country could be four times more costly than the party has estimated. A synopsis of the costing analysis provided to reporters on Thursday by a senior government official — said the proposed change could add more than $4 billion to the annual cost of the EI program, as opposed to the $1-billion figure cited by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff when he promotes the 360-hour standard

Sounds bad for the Liberals, right? Except, the Conservative government decided to totally inflate the numbers:

During the meeting, Liberals said, federal officials admitted that their estimate of the number of people affected by the “360” plan includes new entrants to the work force, re-entrants and those receiving special benefits, such as maternity leave — none of whom Mr. Ignatieff’s proposal is intended to cover.

…which is how they got the “4 times as costly” figure; They’re basing it on fantasy-land scenarios which the Liberals never were planning to do in the first place. It’s apparent the Conservatives have gone into this panel with no serious plan to reform EI standards. Instead, they’re trying to once again play political strategy. Worse, as Jeff says, they’re politicizing the civil service (or at least forcing them to support their partisan games) to cook the numbers like this to try to make the Liberals proposal look unrealistic.

It may be, as Steve blogs here, time for the Liberals to leave this farce of a panel, and let everyone know this government is dealing in bad faith and not wanting to deal with the EI issue at all.


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