IN THE HOUSE ~ Question ~ impact of cuts to employment insurance on seasonal workers

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the minister of tourism went out of his way to call seasonal workers lazy and implied they spend more time in the Caribbean than looking for work. How out of touch can he be with reality? It is his government that has pushed seasonal workers out of work and it is its regressive cuts to employment insurance that have negatively impacted seasonal industries and hurt so many Canadians. Seasonal workers are not on a beach somewhere. They are trying to put food on a table for their families. Will the minister stand up and apologize for these incredibly insulting comments?

Hon. Candice Bergen (Minister of State (Social Development), CPC): Mr. Speaker, is the opposition suggesting that EI benefits should be paid to people who are not in the country looking for work? We absolutely do not believe that. Those people who are paying into EI benefits, employers and employees, do not believe that. We want to make sure that EI remains there for Canadians who by no fault of their own find themselves out of work. We do not believe in the 45-day work year. We do not believe in paying EI benefits to people who are outside of the country. We believe in integrity in the EI system so that it is there for Canadians who have paid into it.